Google Book Deal May Encourage On-Demand Printing

After settling a lawsuit with authors and publishers, what comes next?

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It's exciting to think we'll have online access to millions of books after Google settled a lawsuit with authors and publishers. But for now, we'll be stuck reading them on a PC or other Web-connected device. Maybe one day we'll also see copies of out-of-print books on a reading device like Amazon's Kindle or even physical versions from print-on-demand services like Lulu.

At the heart of the agreement is a new Book Rights Registry that Google will help fund. The registry looks like it will be some sort of clearinghouse for establishing rights to old books, whose ownership is often muddled amid publisher mergers and failures. The registry also enables publishers and authors to participate in fees and ad revenue from books getting read online.

Much of that revenue apparently would come from Google, whose Google Book Search now serves up snippets of texts covered by the lawsuit. Full reads would presumably come with fees. Or they'd at least generate more ad clicks, with more income for publishers and authors—and for Google, of course.

Google would presumably receive nothing from physical and Kindle copies. But if the registry is to be run by authors and publishers, then presumably nothing stands in the way of Kindle downloads—and even good old analog reprints.