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Google Books

Well, for better or worse, it's here. There has been much hoopla in the publishing world about Google and their attempts to digitize the entire compendium of human knowledge. Lawsuits, confusing emails to authors, you name it.

If you are involved in publishing and have not heard about this, it's time to pull your head out from under that rock. If you are not involved in publishing, then it's time to learn what all your book-geek friends will be talking about this week. Here is the story as relayed by the brilliance of the collective Wikipedia brain.

And here are how two of my books, Bug Boy and Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto, appear on Google Books.

Simply put, if your book is in the public domain it will appear in its entirety. If your book's copyright is still held by an entity, it will appear to whatever extent the copyright holder wishes: first chapter, cover only, first few pages, pages from beginning, middle and end, whatever.

So what does that mean to the regular person? It means that virtually every book that has a barcode on it will appear in some capacity on Google Books. So will magazines and reference materials. It will sort of be like going to the book store and being able to "flip through" books in a limited capacity. You can also read appreciable chunks or even all of some books. you also can search by keyword ro author or any other sort of Google-y thing. Kinda cool, right?

So what does this mean for authors and publishers? Good question. No one really knows the answer to this. There are people who think it is the end of publishing as we know it (sort of the way the printing press spelled disaster for the entire scribe profession). Others think that dissemination of information, in whatever means, only spells good things for the world of publishing.

I'm sort of in the middle of these two opinions, but if I had to choose I think I'm in that second camp.

I am a writer; it is my job to produce content. Whether someone reads it in a paper book or on a screen--heck, even if they spell it in smoke letters in the sky--the people in the world of publishing are going to need what I do. Believe me, if they could do it themselves they would.

It is the job of publishers to make heads or tails of all this eBook/Google/digital content thing.
It is the job of writers to write.

So get out there and do it!


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