Wednesday, August 30, 2006

BBC NEWS | Business | Google makes novels free to print

Remind me again: what business is Google in?... 

Working with Google on the Books Library project are Oxford University, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of California, as well as the New York Public Library.

Volunteers working for a project known as Gutenberg have for some years copied out-of-copyright books as text files, which can then be used for printing, reading or piping into a programme for editing.

In contrast, Google is offering the books in a "print-ready" format, as have several other - albeit much smaller and less well-known - firms.

Source: BBC NEWS | Business | Google makes novels free to print


Anonymous said...

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible."

If you aren't aware of their mission statement it would seem odd - but once you are aware of it - it makes perfect sense.

pbokelly said...

Thanks, but that's Google's mission, not it's business. Google is in the advertising business. Wall Street doesn't care as much about its mission. Utopian visions are not great business plans.

Google c2006 in many ways reminds me of Netscape c1996.

Anonymous said...

Search and the way they have monetized it was a utopian vision as well. That's the problem with visions - most people can't see them until they've been realized.

Reading and advertising seem like a pretty lucrative market to me.

In what meaningful ways does it remind you of Netscape? Google has oodles and oodles of cash and a network of partners with vested interests that benefit both.IOW they have an *established* business that *matters*. Something Netscape never came close to achieving. Not much in common between the two IMHO.

Not to say that MS and their cash in the bank won't be able to undo it all. As you point out money trumps everything else.

pbokelly said...

I think Google's advertising business was actually kind of an accident (John Batelle's book "The Search" is an excellent account of Google's history, BTW).

Reading is a pretty lucrative business for copyright holders, and most of them will take issue with Google's mission, which is all about making information universally useful etc. with the value transfer going to Google in the form of advertising.

Netscape had no shortage of smart people, fawning press, and financial leverage. Then they lost their focus, starting competing, directly or indirectly, with IBM, Microsoft, and other companies that had more to lose than Netscape had to gain, and Netscape started to implode even before Microsoft rendered most Netscape products obsolete.

It's not all just about money in the bank. IE3, for instance, was simply a better browser. If Microsoft (or Yahoo!, or another company) comes up with a better business value proposition for advertisers, Google will be a very different story.

For the record, BTW, I'm not anti-Google. I don't hold the company responsible for the infinite hype bubble it's currently in. I'm just anti-infinite hype, as it invariably establishes expectations that can't be met, with all sorts of collateral damage when the market reset eventually kicks in.

Anyways, thanks again for the comments.