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NYT on Amagoogle

Of possible interest.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Want 'War and Peace' Online? How About 20 Pages at a Time?

Published: November 4, 2005

In a race to become the iTunes of the publishing world, Amazon.com and
Google are both developing systems to allow consumers to purchase online
access to any page, section or chapter of a book. These programs would
combine their already available systems of searching books online with a
commercial component that could revolutionize the way that people read

The idea is to do for books what Apple has done for music, allowing
readers to buy and download parts of individual books for their own use
through their computers rather than trek to a store or receive them by
mail. Consumers could purchase a single recipe from a cookbook, for
example, or a chapter on rebuilding a car engine from a repair manual.

The initiatives are already setting off a tug of war among publishers and
the potential vendors over who will do business with whom and how to split
the proceeds. Random House, the biggest American publisher, proposed a
micropayment model yesterday in which readers would be charged about 5
cents a page, with 4 cents of that going to the publisher to be shared
with the author. The fact that Random House has already developed such a
model indicates that it supports the concept, and that other publishers
are likely to follow.

The proposals could also become bargaining chips in current lawsuits
against Google by trade groups representing publishers and authors. These
groups have charged that Google is violating copyrights by making digital
copies of books from libraries for use in its book-related search engine.  
But if those copies of older books on library shelves that have long been
absent from bookstores started to produce revenue for publishers and
authors, the trade groups might drop some of their objections.


Amazon said yesterday that it was developing two programs that would begin
some time next year. The first, Amazon Pages, is intended to work with the
company's "search inside the book" feature to allow users to search its
universe of books and then buy and read online whatever pages they need of
a given book. The second program, Amazon Upgrade, will allow customers to
add online access to their purchase of a physical copy of a book.

Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, said in an interview that he
believed that, for a vast majority of books, consumers would be able to
download, copy and print out whatever portions of the book they buy. But,
he added, that decision would ultimately be up to the publisher or the

Google is working to develop a similar system, said executives at three
publishing companies who were briefed by Google on its efforts. Using the
Google Print site, readers would be able to search Google's digitized
library of books, then buy either an entire book or the relevant parts.

A spokesman for Google, Nate Tyler, declined to comment yesterday on its
plans, saying only that the company was "exploring other economic models,
but we don't have anything to announce yet."

Mr. Tyler said Google welcomed the Amazon program. "Amazon is a valuable
partner," he said, "and we link to Amazon so people can buy books they've
found with Google Print. We're glad our users will have additional ways to
access the books they've found using Google Print."

Google and Amazon would each seem to have some advantages over the other
in the development of their programs. Amazon already has the credit card
numbers of a large population of potential users of the service and is
familiar to people looking to buy books and other goods.


The Random House model calls for consumers to be able to buy access to a
book for, say, 5 cents a page for most books and higher amounts, like 25
cents a page, for cookbooks and other specialty publications. It calls for
users to gain online access, though not to be able to copy or print the
page. But "if consumers absolutely demand certain kinds of access," like
the ability to print, Mr. Sarnoff said, "it would be important to provide

David Steinberger, chief executive of the Perseus Books Group, said he
welcomed the new initiatives and believed it would be better for consumers
if several companies developed these services, giving readers more choices
and types of material available.

"This is a much more significant development than we saw during the
Internet boom," when scores of companies were rushing to develop e-books -
complete books that could be downloaded onto an electronic reader. Those
plans were largely shelved as consumers found the electronic readers
unwieldy, and the Internet boom collapsed. "This time," Mr. Steinberger
said, "it looks like this really might happen."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times