Amazon.com has announced a book-scanning project --- and it's figured out a way to please authors and publishers, spread around the money for everyone, and do the right thing for readers. Google should sit up and take notice.
The Amazon plan includes: scanning copyrighted books and let readers search through them. It will offer paid online access to parts or the entire book, and the payment will depend on the book, and on how much of the book someone wants available.
There is also an option to buy the physical book, and then have access to the full text of the book online as well.
This keeps everyone happy. Copyright holders are paid fairly for their works, and readers can buy only portions of books they want to use.
The Google plan includes: scanning and making the books available without copyright holders' permissions, is mired in legal battles. The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild are both suing Google, and some librarians have weighed in against the company as well.
Amazon's move will make it the premier site for getting book content online. Antoinette Marty, analyst for Current Analysis, told TechWeb that Amazon.com was "speeding past Google in the digital book domain," because of Amazon's innovative plan, and Google's fumbling.
Here's betting that Google will lose this war on all accounts. Suits will slow it down, and may possibly doom the program. Bad publicity is hounding it. Individual publishers are getting into the act now as well. Random House has announced a plan to sell portions of its books online.
Meanwhile, its less-arrogant competitors are creating smart ways to give people online access to books.