Book Scanning Brings Attention To Commercially Neglected Works

from the not-that-the-publishers-will-care dept

Since Google first started scanning books, it's been clear that some of the controversy stems from publishers and authors not understanding the project, and not seeing how they would benefit from it. A new study has quantified what many people could intuit, that book-search engines bring attention to obscure titles that otherwise see little commercial activity. In fact, Google Book Search results point to unpopular books almost as often as they do popular ones. It stands to reason that titles at the lower end of the tail, which have almost no sales volume, will benefit from discovery via search. In fact in Chris Anderson's now-classic article from Wired on the long tail, he starts off with an example of a book that became a hit a decade after its release, once readers discovered it. They found it via Amazon reviews, but the principle is the same -- without the ability to discover old titles, there's no hope for the publishers to ever monetize these assets. Then again, it's likely that a utilitarian case for book scanning will fall on deaf ears at the publishing houses. Just as the newspapers still don't realize that more website traffic is a good thing, when coming from Google, the publishers won't see the increased sales as a worthwhile tradeoff for losing control over some aspect of distribution. That's too bad; books have a bright and interesting future and it'd be a shame if the publishers missed out.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Reader, 16 May 2006 @ 11:50am

    A Question

    You link to O'Reilly's study pointing out the benefits of these books being digitally available. Then you take "publishers" to task for not participating in book scanning programs.

    Clearly, many publishers have participated or the data wouldn't be available. But oddly, O'Reilly books don't seem to be available in Amazon's book scan program.

    So which color hat is O'Reilly wearing? The white hat for pressing for publishers to open their books to be scanned by other companies, or the black hat for (apparently) opting out of at least one of those programs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JerseyRich, 16 May 2006 @ 12:36pm

    It's unfortunate that the humongous potential on book scanning is misunderstood and unappreciated.

    The only problem I see with it is that books are not profitable in small volumes, so increased sales of some obscure titles does not turn on the publishing industry.

    BUT, if they were smart, they would create PDF versions of low-volume sellers and sale them online. Google would even provide the link!

    Then, instead of having to print a few copies, they could catalog it online.

    Is that a new revenue stream I hear??????????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    STJ, 16 May 2006 @ 12:57pm

    I believe that libraries had these issues when they first started.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ben, 16 May 2006 @ 1:25pm

    re: Books?

    What are books?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2006 @ 3:55pm

    i can write

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.