LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant

November 28, 2005

New York magazine jumps into the Google party this week with a snappy summaryof all that's been going on. But it's the London Timesthat adds a new argument. In an article by a small publisher, it's noted that if Google scans all scholarly books into its databases, even for search purposes, libraries won't need to buy so many books. A user can enter a search term, find the exact books that the search term appears in, and discover whether or not it's even worth cracking the covers of the books - or ordering them via interlibrary loan. The number of books in any given library will decrease - there will be more sharing of titles. And so publishers will find fewer buyers, will publish fewer books, etc. etc.

In other news, we're back on the
GDSNtrain - trying to synch up book databases so they can be used by grocery stores, drugstores, other-than-bookstores. Why is this such an obsession: well, anybody who's been to my house has seen all my books. I am a far worse book fiend than shoe fiend - and I have an impressive shoe collection. Stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Wegman's, Publix- these are selling books now, as we all know. What some of us might not know is that they are selling a tremendous number of books. All using data that's insufficient, inaccurate, and in some cases barely even there. Still, they are managing to keep the book industry pockets pretty well lined in ways that traditional booksellers seem not to be able to do.

So why the push on data?

Because if the book industry cannot continue to make it easier for those stores to sell books - if the book industry cannot get its shit together and present non-traditional book outlets with good sales data, there's gonna be no incentive for them to continue to sell books. Books will be replaced by DVDs, music, video games, magazines, whatever stores find (when they finally wake up) is easiest to sell - and good data makes a thing easy to sell. And then, we'll find, we'll have made it harder for people to buy books. We're already competing for mind-share here, folks. Why make it more difficult on ourselves?
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