To Be or Not To Be

This morning, I sat down to write a blog entry that was going to be called “The World Turned Upside Down”.  It was going to start with a quote from David Halberstam’s book The Powers That Be.  I remembered a line about how power had passed from the wire services to television in the 1960s, based on where reporters got to sit in the motorcade.

I searched my bookshelf for Halberstam’s book, and when I could not find it (it’s probably in one of the boxes downstairs), I googled it on the web.

Normally, when you google a book, the first reference you get is to its listing in Amazon. But this time, when I googled Halberstam’s book, I got a reference called google.books.

This was a new one for me, so I followed the link.

Here, astonishingly, is the entire book!

All 747 pages of it.

For free.

There is something here, for if Google can make all of this book available to everyone in the world for free, then they can do the same with every book ever written or every book that is going to be written in the future. And if they can do this with books, they can also do this with music, TV shows, movies, art, videos and just about anything else.  The sum total of all human productivity can now be placed in 3 billion homes any time, all the time, 24-hours a day, for free.

This is an astonishing event in the world of markets.

In a stroke, the cost of paper, printing, ink, distribution, Barnes and Noble, carpeting, lights, trucks and so much more, have all been wiped clean.  It changes the basic economics of everything.

Everything.

And even if web based advertising brings in 10 cents each dollar that conventional television used to bring it, it does not matter, because the cost of production and distribution has been shattered. Shattered.

David Halberstam direct to you, via google.

Its a new world.

And it has not even started yet.

10 responses to “To Be or Not To Be

  1. are you sure Michael? I blogged googlereader a year or so ago – excited to find that Steve Hullfish’s seminal work on desktop color grading was available through the service.

    but many of the most valuable pages were not in the preview

    I might be wrong

  2. Hi Peter
    I cannot say for sure, as I did not check all 747 pages, but I did skim through and the page counter just kept going up to 747.
    This is my first experience with google books, and I have to say I was just astonished to see the content there. I was used to Amazon’s sample pages, but this…
    Of course, I am no expert on this. Probably they do, at least for now, delete some of the most important stuff to drive you to buy the book, but I think that as the technology allows this, it surely will come.

  3. yes it is an incredible service even with a few deleted pages – with the agreement of the publishers and financed by ads from Amazon and B&N

    what I can’t understand is why publishers allow libraries to “lend” downloaded audio books with no DRM.

  4. Baen.com have a free library of their books on line and have for years.

  5. I just checked and there is a note at the top of the page that states there is a limited number of pages that you can see and when you reach that limit, no more pages will be available. Don’t know if it is working that way right now, but the note (link) states it will be limited.

  6. yeh, but isn’y it nive just to pick up a book and read it, rather than wreck your eyes staring at a display screen?

  7. “I cannot say for sure, as I did not check all 747 pages, but I did skim through and the page counter just kept going up to 747.”

    What?!?!? Rosenblum making claims and then admitting he didn’t really check them out to make sure it was true?!?!?!?

    No surprise to me!

  8. I report.
    You decide.
    ha ha ha.

    have fun.

  9. where the heck is nino?

  10. excellent point $

    If MR is wrong about this – then isn’t he probably wrong about everything else?

    I don’t know about you – but this thread is causing me to rethink my entire position on global warming

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