Richard Sarnoff of the American Association of Publishers has been speculating about that organisation’s tabled deal with Google over its Book Search facility, and according to Ars Technica he claims the deal forces Google into direct competition with Amazon’s business model:
Sarnoff said the publishers he represents didn’t set out to create a monopoly in the markets for book search engines or online book sales. But he didn’t deny that the settlement could have that effect. After all, he noted, “copyright itself is a monopoly.”
It’s not often you hear that from someone on the publishing side of the equation. But it’s so far hard to tell who has actually got the better end of the deal:
Sarnoff outlined the terms of the settlement, which is expected to be approved by the courts later this year. It reads like a blueprint for the future of electronic book publishing, covering topics as wide-ranging as advertising, library access, and the treatment of orphan works. A key element of the agreement is the creation of a Book Rights Registry that will collect payments from Google and distribute them to authors and publishers. Sarnoff said the publishers pressed for the creation of this registry in part because it would be too “easy to disintermediate the publisher over time” if Google paid authors directly. Sarnoff said that the structure of the registry will be “tough to replicate for [Google’s] competitors.”
Only time will tell whether the AAP has taken the enemy to bed. But it’s grist for the mills of those who worry that Google is already too big for its boots – another discussion point where the word ‘monopoly’ tends to crop up with frequency, and one that varies in tone from polite concern to foaming-at-the-mouth paranoia and conspiracy theory.
What do think – will we be consumed by the silicon Rapture on the day Google finally crawls the DNA of each and every one of us? Or are they just a company who brought out the right business model at the right time?
I’m not that worried; from the looks of things, if Google does end up as a digital despot, at least I’ll have plenty of things to read… [image by massless]