About a year ago, we were a bit surprised to see book publisher HarperCollins, who is among the publishers fighting Google's book scanning project, decide that they were going to start a multi-million dollar project to scan their own books. It seemed a little odd considering that Google was basically willing to do the scanning for them for free. At the very least, it could have made sense to work out a deal with Google, where HarperCollins stopped trying to stop the Google scanning project in exchange for Google giving HarperCollins a digital library of their own content to do other stuff with. Since then, HarperCollins has been scanning away, and even running some experiments with ad-supported books. Today, the company announced that it's teaming up with digital publishing company LibreDigital to offer more features and services around the digital content. It's good that they're digging deeper into the possibilities of digital content, but it still seems like they're focusing on the wrong thing. Rather than looking at the new opportunities this allows for publishers, they focus on the "comprehensive control" this will allow. The lesson that should have been learned by this point is that the value in digitizing isn't in the control, but in allowing more things to be done with the content to make it more valuable. There's nothing wrong with HarperCollins trying to digitize works and do more with them -- but doing more often means letting go of control, rather than putting more rules on the content.
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