Monday, February 05, 2007

A Universal Online Library

Name the visionary or person with the dream to be realized--and you will find detractors. Some way or another the people who accomplish their goals and dreams put aside these naysayers and push ahead to achieve their dreams. It comes with the territory and we need to be prepared for it.

Make sure you read Jeffrey Toobin's article in the February 5th issue of The New Yorker magazine about Google and their quest to create a universal library of books titled “Google's Moon Shot.” Toobin provides fascinating background and the issues related to Google's goal of scanning all of the books in the world. Here's some of the details which caught my attention:

*"No one really knows how many books there are. The most volumes listed in any catalogue is thirty-two million, the number in WorldCat, a database of titles from more than twenty-five thousand libraries around the world. Google aims to scan at least that many."

*"As Laurence Kirschbaum, a longtime publishing executive who recently became a literary agent, told me at the conference, 'Google is now the gatekeeper. They are reaching an audience that we as publishers and authors are not reaching. It makes perfect sense to use the specificity of a search engine as a tool for selling books.'"

*"'What they are doing, of course, is scanning literally millions of copyrighted books without permission,' Paul Aiken, the executive director of the Authors Guild, said. 'Google is doing something that is likely to be very profitable for them, and they should pay for it. It's not enough to say that it will help the sales of some books. If you make a movie of a book, that may spur sales, but that doesn't mean you don't license the books. Google should pay. We should be finding ways to increase the value of the stuff on the Internet, but Google is saying the value of the right to put books up there is zero.'"

It's a lofty goal to scan the world's books and put them online. The copyright and legal issues are also explored in this article--and how the program is pushing the previous ideas of what constituted fair use of books. When the current laws were created, no one imagined a scanner to digitize the content of a book.

In this realm of exposure for books, John Kremer has launched All Books Free, a site dedicated to giving away novels, children's books, short story collections and poetry. As Kremer says, "The toughest challenge for a newbie or an unknown author is to get readers to sample your book. The best way to get people to sample your book is by giving it away as a free PDF download. This website is designed to make that easy for you to do. Most people won't read an entire novel on their computer, but they will sample it. And, if they like it, they will go to Amazon.com or their favorite local bookseller and buy it. Then they will read your book. And, if your book is any good, they'll begin to tell other people about your book. That's how word-of-mouth begins. And, please note, 80% of all books are sold by word-of-mouth." Part of what I'm doing through my affiliate program for Book Proposals That Sell is to open the opportunity for more people to know about and use this book.

There are many different ways to get out the word about your books. In the 6th edition of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, Kremer has over 700 pages of ideas with specific contact information to spur you in the right direction.

What dream is in your heart? What plans are you making today to move in the direction of fulfilling it?

1 Comment:

At 8:35 AM, Blogger D. Ann Graham Left a note...

I have greatly enjoyed the availability that has been achieved through the Gutenberg site for classics and out-of-print books, and have often wished for an “online library” that wasn’t subscription based. However, as a writer, I can see the drawbacks of having all books online. Perhaps with our lightning fast changes that are taking place in the information industry, we will have to catch up with some adjustments that everyone can live with. That might be something similar to the movie industry where a certain amount of theater time is required before a selection becomes available on DVD. Or maybe even --as was practiced in England some years ago (not sure if they still do) -- a small royalty going to authors for each time a book is “checked out.”

Changes are hardest on the oldest and largest industries, but they continue to roll over us anyway. At the same time entrepreneurs such as the people at Google seem to have an amazing talent for cashing in on such things, and being right or wrong is rarely taken into consideration. Something made quite clear by the recent controversy over their willingness to trade business privileges with communist countries, in exchange for handing over personal information on users to local authorities.


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