OBA Optimistic that Google Books Settlement in Current Form Won’t Go Through

“One thing is for certain – the proposed Google Book Settlement, as it’s currently written, will not go through.”

Now that we’ve had a chance to review the Justice Department’s filing in more detail, we recognize that one thing is certain – the proposed Google Book Settlement, as it’s currently written, will not go through. Even Google seems to agree with this — after months of fighting against any change to the settlement, they acknowledge that the settlement must be profoundly altered. That’s good news for anyone who wants to protect innovation, competition, and the public interest as we evolve the world of books to the digital age. [Open Book Alliance]

Have We Ever Paid for Content?

Paula Graham says the much-discussed "pay for content" online news model may be fundamentally flawed in that newspapers and magazines never really charged for their content, even in print. Subscriptions and newsstand prices have been traditionally used to pay for the medium, and the means of distribution, and not for the content of the articles.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

One could argue, however, that via iTunes, Apple has successfully transitioned music from consumers paying for medium to consumers paying for content. Could the same happen for online news and online books? Graham says that iTunes is actually more of a "tollbooth."

Discovered via New Business Models for News and @freddieoconnell.

US Justice Dept Advises Court to Reject Google Books Settlement

US Justice Dept wants changes to Google book deal (AFP)

AFP – The US Justice Department has advised a court to reject a legal settlement between Google and authors and publishers that would allow the Internet giant to scan and sell millions of books online [Yahoo! Books and Publishing News]

Extreme Print on Demand

Sure the Google Books settlement is controversial. Critics say it negatively affects authors and marketplace competition. However, some interesting new twists on publishing as a whole have come forward as a result of Google Booksaside from the settlement–and its mission to scan out-of-print books. Take, for instance, the PrintOnDemand Espresso machine recently blogged about at JoeTrippi.com and profiled in Wired. Basically, this device will allow bookstores to print on demand perfect bound books from the Google Books library, in the store, for a very low cost-per-book.

It’s sort of a Red Box for books, although perhaps a ways off from widespread implementation. The potential application is much broader than just for Google Books, however. Publishers could make use of the technology to distribute new titles as well. (ht: @freddieoconnell)

Open Book Alliance Ruminates on the Right and Wrong Ways to Digitize Books

The Open Book Alliance’s Peter Brantley admits that digitizing books is an important step toward the future, but cautions that there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it. The Google Books settlement is the wrong way, he says.

The current settlement proposal is the wrong way. It would stifle innovation and competition in favor of a monopoly over the access, distribution, and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world.

A Literary Agent Explores ‘Publishing as a Service’

Literary agent Nathan Bransford wonders whether authors of the future will actually need publishers. The publishing industry is, like many others, in the throes of major transformation.

My guess is that we’ll continue to see the mainstream publishing industry focus on the bestselling titles, and there will be a new crop of e-publishing services available for the rest. Some titles will rise up from the morass of author-published works and receive attention from the mainstream publishers, and some big authors will choose to take on the responsibilities of publishing themselves and bypass the publishers.

‘Tampa Tribune’ Editor Thinks Charging for Online News is ‘Delusional’

From Romenesko:

Tampa Tribune editor Janet Coats believes there needs to be a more aggressive approach to getting online ad revenue. "We have spent 15 years in this industry getting newsrooms to change. By God, they have changed. How much have things changed on the ad side?"