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.