The Other Google Blog, and yet more things...
Well, today I accidentally visited google-blog.blogspot.com and thought, "Hm. I guess Google doesn't mind if people hyphenate their name into blogs after all".
The other Google blog is an unofficial blog about Google posted by a Librarian named Susan Herzog, an "Information Literacry Librarian @ Eastern Connecticut State University". That's a bigger jawbreaker than anything in Khuzdul, as Sam Gamgee might be tempted to say. I can only guess what an Information Literacy Librarian might be -- sounds like something the U.S. military would dream up to describe a Webmaster.
Still, she provides some very good resources for people who want to do research about...Google. As one might expect, there are many entries concerning Google Print. I can see how librarians of all varieties would be interested in Google Print. And one of the headlines in Susan's blog reads, "What about authors?"
As a published author, I have been asked what I think about Google Print. My reaction is mixed. As someone who cannot afford to buy every book on Earth, it's tempting to have so many of them at my finger tips. On the other hand, I'm not sure how many people realize that you can, actually, print out the full contents of every book encased behind Google Print's protections. The result would look very ugly, but you can do it.
Which means that people can print Visualizing Middle-earth in its entirety, despite the fact that it's labeled as a "Limited Preview" book. Now, I'm not going to share the tedious details on how to print it all out, but if I can figure out how to do it, so can at least 7 other people. The rest of you probably don't care to try.
Why do I allow Google to index my book? Because I'm ambivalent about the whole matter. I might as well see what happens. I've earned a nice amount of money off of Visualizing Middle-earth (which is cream for me, considering I had been paid to write most of the essays by Suite101). It comes up in the top five or ten for a variety of searches such as "elves in Middle-earth", "tolkien middle-earth", "middle-earth movies", "lord of the rings movies", etc.
And I did absolutely nothing to optimize for those searches. I have no idea of how one would be able to optimize for Google Print. But the day may come when books are written with search engines like Google Print in mind. Does that frighten you? It shouldn't. For decades, some authors have written books that they hoped would be picked up for film or television adaptation. Such books are designed to make the transition easily. Does the concept work? I doubt it. The film and television industry tend to go after classic books as much as possible, in my experience.
But books have also been written for specialized markets for decades as well. There are book packagers who see a need in a special niche and they go out and hire authors, artists, editors, whomever they need to produce the exact type of book required. You might buy one of these books at the checkout stand of your supermarket. Your child might buy one of these books in a school book fair. You have no way of knowing if the book you buy was the result of a package deal. I was approached a few years ago by Chris Zavisa, who has worked with Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz, to write the main text for a Middle-earth book. That's all I can say about it, but Chris introduced me to the world of book packaging.
So the production of books for services like Google Print is, in my opinion, something that will happen. It's only a matter of time until someone figures out how to (possibly) make some money off of it. How would I do it? Maybe I'd embed a lot of permanent advertising in the book, and see that each page ranks highly for a variety of searches.
But how do you optimize for Google Print? I don't know. Only Google knows (at this stage). So it would be a bit of a crap shoot, which is (I am sure) how Google wants it. But how long will it be before Google monetizes Google Print? They run ads in the margins, but technologically it should be possible for Google to increase their revenues from Google Print in other ways.
Frankly, I think they should provide a subscription book service, where you can read (and bookmark) books online. The authors would, naturally, get a royalty for your access. Much like RIAA and MPAA, I suspect that mainstream publishers would be appalled at such an idea. After all, if done fairly and right, it would cut them out of the middle and get the money directly to the authors: many of whom wait a long, long time to see money for their work.
And all that came to me because I'm too lazy to memorize google.blogspot.com....