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Re: Important developing trend

I agree that the Harper Collins response is a significant move. 
But its also rather disappointing in that the advantages and 
strength of the Google approach has been ignored in the way that 
the Harper Collins/Libre Digital platform is set up. Search seems 
to be an afterthought and access is rather non-standard.

Google's 'Book Search' solution is in some ways surprisingly 
crude -- it simply delivers JPEGs to the browser. There is no 
complicated file format. But this is in fact much preferable and 
much more scaleable than the e-book file formats that publisher's 
have hitherto favoured (and the Newsstand LibreDigital format is 
similarly e-bookish! Yet another ebook experiment with a new 
format into which book lenght PDFs can be poured).Note that the 
Harper Collins library doesnot appear to have powerful and 
flexible searching within and across titles. Note also that users 
will need to download some reader-software. Several blocks or 
stopping points before you can find out whether you want the 

The Google approach at least puts the question on the right 
footing: everything is and should be searchable, but whether or 
not you have access or full access to the text will depend on 
such matters as having the right to access, or your library or 
institution having the right to grant you access. The 'foreign 
format' or ebook approach says: if you want to search this you 
are going to have to buy access and we dont guarantee that the 
goods in question have anything at all germane to your interests. 
This is the way print books have always been sold (and with 
limited right of return), but it clearly isnt the way that books 
will be sold or licensed on the web.

With a web library 'access' shold be a consequence of 'search' 
(mediated by various legal and commercial considerations). With a 
purely print library 'search' results from 'access'. You consult 
the index or scan the pages when/after you have located the book.

To organise a digital library as though the content were locked 
up is completely wrong-headed and publishers should place SEARCH 
at the top of their promotion and technology strategies if they 
want them to work. Access then becomes a secondary and 
implementation detail (almost certainly highly lucrative -- if 
reliably delivered).

Declaration of interest -- at Exact Editions we are using a 
similar approach to Google Book Search, in this respect:- make 
the foundation of the service a searchable archive and deliver 
page or issue 'views' as licence management and commercial 
consideration allows. In the magazine business this means the 
publishers call the shots.

The book business is quite a bit more complex in respect of 
rights! But Google will surely find out that the book publishers 
interests have to be addressed.

Adam Hodgkin


On 8/24/06, Joseph J. Esposito <espositoj@gmail.com> wrote:
> The article below ("Who Needs Google?") appeared in Publishers 
> Weekly.  It describes a service from a division of Electronic 
> Newstand called LibreDigital that scans and converts books and 
> makes them searchable online. Full control of what and how much 
> is viewable remains with the publisher. Note that this is a 
> SAAS (Software as a Service) implementation.  IT types need not 
> apply.
> This is an important development (assuming the technology
> works!).  This will bring more and more content online, where it
> can be found by any well-tuned search engine.  I don't much care
> for the headline of the article myself, but that is a matter of
> taste.  It should be said that while LibreDigital (and other
> emerging, competing services) does much of what the Google Print
> and Library programs proposed to do, it is highly unlikely that
> many publishers would have invested in this route if Google had
> not put a gun to their head.
> Joe Esposito