Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Google Books Settlement Pt. 1
The GBS has been on my mind for some time. At first I believed it was going to allow readers to immediately download books as soon as they became available without paying for them, and then read them on e-book readers which eventually abolish printed books, adding to the idea that in the future the arts will become entirely free to all...for better or worse.
Whether this will actually be the case is anyone's guess. I've only read these three articles regarding the matter, so there might be loopholes that I haven't noticed.
Of course there are other issues besides allowing a new book to be downloaded for free instead of paying the artist their due. Notably the issues of how e-books could possibly pervert the author's vision of their work with advertisments, which is something I noticed in the Canadian article, as well as Google possibly censoring and rewriting certain works which is absolutely wrong.
There are issues that don't apply to me but I still want them to have their proper consideration, such as Google copyrighting and e-releasing books that have gone out of print, and Quebec authors not getting their due.
A saving grace of the GBS is that authors can freely null different options of it by filling out a form and sending it to Google. But even so, the deal extends to their publishing house as well which can overrule the author's wishes of not being a part of the GBS.
Personally, at this point in time I wouldn't mind Google taking sections of the books I write, for example a couple of chapters, and putting them online for free dissemination. You could liken it to downloading a song from an album to spark interest in a singer (although not in the case of a one-hit wonder. And even with file sharing and Youtube videos, there's still certain songs and shows that are kept from being enjoyed free of charge). Or it could be compared to a library carrying a couple copies of the book. It would allow for quicker access to my work, which is always beneficial. As long as they pay me for whatever advertisments they use my work in.
Eveybody's talking about the future of the printed book, and how reading will change. I would much rather prefer reading a book instead of reading a screen, but at the same time I'm not averse to technological changes. I mean, when it comes to literature I'm always reading a book. I've never listened to a book on tape or CD. I haven't tested a Kindle or any other e-book reader. But technology doesn't have to be detrimental to the reading process, nor does it have to reformat our attention spans/memories (although as I've mentioned earlier Socrates said reading in general degrades our memories so we may as well step on the gas?). That's why I hope that the GBS doesn't take away any money from authors or diminsh the meaning and quality of their works.
It's still disturbing how reading is fundamentally changing in my lifetime. And of course this adds to my many levels of stress about my future in literature. Yet no matter what happens, the quality of the work always comes foremost.
These are my initial thoughts on the subject, anyways. I'm sure I'll have more posts about it as new developments arrive.