Sunday, December 03, 2006

Google Books: Primitive

Google Scholar
Google Books

Have you tried to go through the books? They have tried their best to give you the "book" experience. You turn over the page. The dirty white look is there. The whole nine yards.

I understand these are books only available in print format. So you are doing the best you can, fine. But if you can scan the words, maybe you can present them like regular webpages.

Or maybe have two versions. One would be what you have. Another would be for new authors, new books. Say you are an author, and you wrote a college textbook for Physics 101. You don't want to go to any publisher. Instead you want it directly published online. Instead of a blog, you have a book. So the presentation will have to be different. I mean, you can tweak the current blog templates, and you can alread do that, but it is still too tech-heavy, not still author friendly.

An author should be able to sign up and publish easy. The process should be as simple as possible, with as few steps as possible. The difference between Geocities and Blogger is not that much, technically speaking, but for the average user it is huge. Similarly, Google Books should offer an option that makes it super easy for authors to go online on a lookout for a global audience.

The end products should look like a webpage, navigable, searchable, with ads that make money for authors. Google should perhaps tweak its ad offerings to make it better for book authors, perhaps a 70-30 split in favor of the author.

You could take the book reading experience to a whole different level. If you are a reader who is signed in, you should be able to highlight through the books, online. You should be able to save books in your account, books you might want to read later, you should be able to bookmark to the point you have read.

Is there technology that would make it not possible to copy more than 100 words at a time? Or give the authors the option to turn off the copy feature altogether?

The technology is already there. We just got to make the leap.

Produce books that look like webpages, not like old books. Make navigation webby, not bookey. Let new authors bypass the whole publishing mechanism. Let them have total control. Not all will be read as widely, but let anyone publish.

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Boston Herald, United States an alternative project promising better online access to the world’s books, art and historical documents. .... A splinter group called the Open Content Alliance favors a less restrictive approach to prevent mankind’s accumulated knowledge from being controlled by a commercial entity ....... the Open Content Alliance will not scan copyrighted content unless it receives the permission of the copyright owner. Most of the roughly 100,000 books that the alliance has scanned so far are works whose copyrights have expired. ..... The company will only acknowledge that it is scanning more than 3,000 books per day - a rate that translates into more than 1 million annually. Google also is footing a bill expected to exceed $100 million to make the digital copies - a commitment that appeals to many libraries. ...... None of Google’s contracts prevent participating libraries from making separate scanning arrangements with other organizations ..... Despite its ongoing support for the Open Content Alliance, Microsoft earlier this month launched a book-scanning project to compete with Google. ....... All but one of the libraries contributing content to Google so far are part of universities. They are: Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Oxford, California, Virginia, Wisconsin-Madison, and Complutense of Madrid. The New York Public Library also is relying on Google to scan some of its books.
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