The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who's Afraid of Google Books?

Google recently added 12 more libraries to their omnivorous scanning maw (despite two pending lawsuits). As a researcher and a penny-pinching reader this makes me very happy. As a bookdealer and peddler of rare information, this makes me fear for my (already spotty) future earning potential.

I'm fairly sure that Google's project will destroy the market for many mid-high priced scholarly titles (particularly the ones that are only needed to check a footnote or two). And I'm absolutely sure that checking if a book has been "googled" yet will become a regular part of bookscouting. On the other hand if a buyer can use Google Books to confirm that a title is desirable to them (rather than buying blind), they might be more likely to pay a decent price for it.

First editions and books as artifacts/fetish objects should hold their value. And the comparison shopping potential, and expanded market created by online bookselling should drive the premium and one-of-a-kind items even higher. This should be more of a focus for me in the future.

So far the only thing I've used Google Books for was to replace a missing page from a rare, early 20th century mystery novel. It hasn't done me wrong...yet.

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