I’ve read a fair amount about the Google Book settlement, but I haven’t seen a more helpful explanation than Annalee Newitz’s “5 Ways The Google Book Settlement Will Change The Future of Reading.” After a history of how the settlement came about, she discusses it under the following headings:
1. It may become harder to get information online about books from writers you love.
2. You will find yourself reading free books online, by authors who have disappeared. And Google will make money when you do.
3. Google will be competing with Apple and Amazon and everybody else to be your favorite online bookseller.
4. Libraries and bookstores will be the same thing.
5. Pulp science fiction will make a comeback in ways you might not expect.
We can once again have access to weird, unusual stories that are both awesome and not sustainable under publishing’s current blockbuster model. Writers of small and midlist SF books could start making money on their writing again. This is a good thing for authors and readers who love imaginative fiction.
I want to live in a future where I can find the lesbian alien “Journey To My Tentacle Cave” series on the shelves next to Stephenie Meyer’s latest celebration of vampire celibacy – and one click away from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. That is a future of economically-sustainable openness in the stacks. And I think, with careful regulation, the GBS could be the first shaky step on the road that will take us there.
I’m sure some of you know a lot more about this than I do and have thought more about it; I’ll be glad to hear your reactions.