Google Books in Print

By | September 21, 2009

Last week Google announced a content access deal with On Demand Books, LLC the company behind the Espresso Book Machine. The deal provides On Demand Books with access to over two million public-domain titles in the Google Books archive.

Google has published a video for those unfamiliar with on-demand book production.

The Wired.com article on the partnership included a quote from Dane Neller, On Demand Books CEO about adding Web-to-print functionality to Google Books, “Neller said he’d love to see the day when Google Book Searchers can press a button next to a search result and find the closest local printer, but Google says that’s a long way off.”

I’m not surprised Google isn’t planning on providing local printing just yet, but where is the option to have a book printed and shipped? Lighting Source does this for thousands of titles on Amazon.com everyday. The IT practices are place and the print factories are built. What’s taking so long? Is Google waiting for the dust to settle around its settlement with publishers before it provides access to printed copies of books?

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3 thoughts on “Google Books in Print

  1. Michael j

    Adam, I think you’ve got it just right with the legal deal. Until that’s resolved in the courts it’s too risky. But once it is, it could get very interesting for oce and other infrastructure players in the book print on demand business.

    Another data point to consider is that Amazon applied for a patent to deliver contextually accurate advertising in books. Even more interesting is that the engineer who led the team then jumped jump and moved over to Google, where he is now.

    The way I connect the dots is that some time this coming year we are going to see Amazon offer the 9.99 version to the Kindle, and the $x dollar version in Print and perhaps the book in print for Free if you agree to accept advertising. Meanwhile Google has deeper expertise in growing an advertising platform. It seems that they have figured it out for YouTube (clickable ads at the bottom of the screen.)

    I think I’m seeing a “battle of the titans” Google v Amazon for moving assets from the web into print, in the form of printed books. Whatever happens it should be great news for anyone who has opptimized book production and business processes in place.

    I would think right now that means OCE, although the recent duplex Nuveras Xerox announced at Print 09, might be able to make a run for the smaller commercial shop who wants to get in on the action.

  2. Andy McCourt

    I tend to agree with Adam too. There is no doubt that Google is master of its particular Universe, but there is a wormhole between it and the parallel book printing/publishing Universe, and I wonder if they ‘get it.’ Folks are not going to hang around waiting for an Espresso to print the latest Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer when they can take one from the big instore display, complete with embellished dust jacket, hard cover and beautiful presentation – it’s an object of desire. Or, as Adam says, order online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc and have one digitally printed, packed and delivered by Ingram Ligtning Source at a good price.
    I like Michael J’s ‘battle of the Titans’ analogy but maybe the Titans are already here and have been battling for eternity? Harper Collins, Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, BBC, Bertelsman, and so forth.
    BTW, also at Print 09 OCE released the Varioprint 6320 Ultra – world’s fastest (up to 336 A4ppm) cut-sheet duplexing/perfecting digital printer. The difference is, it perfects like an offset press, at the same imaging point using something called ‘Gemini’ technology. So it does not require 2 separate engines.
    The surprise in all this is that book sales (printed) have held up very well despite the GFC, e-Books, Google, mobile comms and the declining sense of real literacy in the Western world!

  3. Michael Jahn

    Lets imagine a scenario Google only offers the “print me now” button on books (or partial books) that can be proven to be ‘out of copyright’.

    I think of the millions of the books scanned by Google, at lest 15% are confirmed to be in this category – as this includes books that some never knew even existed or were orphaned and unavailable, this will be a fantastic thing for many.

    Lets then imagine that these books do not have illustrations (I am pretty sure the input scan resolution was not much above 150 ppi) – or if their are illustrations, these illustrations are not restricted separately by a different copyright constraint * (see below)

    While there are all sorts of reasons – and all sorts of people – who may want to print such a book – but how many book sales will be needed per month to justify the investment at a location ?

    Will having this device available at a location have ‘other uses’ like people walking in with a Multipage PDF on a thumbdrive?

    Books from other sources like the Hathitrust may be made available as well – this is simply a first step – and lets face it, even when Google seems to stumble, they have been proven to be a very quick study.

    Geoffrey Nunberg, adjunct full professor at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley states

    Google’s five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry. Scanning will always be an expensive, labor-intensive project.

    more on that and the real meta-data problems Google Books has which cause issues when you attempt a search and (maybe) find what you are looking for at this link;

    http://chronicle.com/article/Googles-Book-Search-A/48245/

    I guess this is a ‘we will have to wait and see’ moments, and while I would be far more inclined to buy an eBook copy for my Kindle, hey, that’s just me.

    *Related to the text in the book Alice in Wonderland by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll) – When the Alice books were published, they were copyright protected until 42 years after the first publication or 7 years after the author’s death, whichever was the longer. Later, the 1911 Act replaced the 1842 Copyright Act which extended the period to 50 years after the author’s death.

    This means that the copyright on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” subsisted until 1907 and that of “Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there” until 1948.

    Related to the illustrations in the book Alice in Wonderland – Sir John Tenniel died in 1914, his illustrations came out of copyright in 1964!

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