Go Google books

There have been a few discussions in Swedish media over the past few days about Google books, where most of those discussions have focused on the risks with a "private monopoly" of books online.

I am not scared at all. I think it is wonderful that a private company is spending huge amounts of money on making the world's literary heritage available and searchable online. A few years ago, things were significantly different. If you didn't know which specific book you were looking for, you could get help to search on a few keywords - at best - and then possibly get your hands on a book within a few days or weeks. With Google books, you can search on all the text, and have the digital version of the book in your hands a second later.

The Economist wrote two pieces on Google books last week that is good. And all the nay-sayers who would rather see that Google stopped the project have one huge problem to solve: what is the realistic alternative other than a privately owned solution, if you want to make most of the books in the world available in 179 countries?

And from this perspective, I'm very happy with the Swedish government who have chosen not to file a formal complaint in the same way that some of our neighbors have.

The Google books initiative, more than anything that I've seen to date, will be the start of a new era in consumption of older books and texts. Tomorrow's networked e-readers will match and outperform Ender's tablet computer.

No comments: