Google’s Engineering Director Shares Google’s Vision for the Future
Last night, in an event that slipped by relatively unnoticed compared to the usual media spotlight on Google happenings, Google Books Engineering Director Dan Clancy spoke at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., of Google’s vision for the future of bookselling.
MediaBistro’s Daily BayNewser Feed covered the event and provides a transcript of Clancy’s comments, which outline three main concepts in Google’s vision:
- book content stored in a “cloud” (on Google’s servers);
- a partnership program with retailers, so consumers can buy any book at any store location; and
- digital book content that is available to any device, whether a personal computer, an e-reading device, a mobile phone, etc.
“People look at the settlement [with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers] and think that that is Google’s vision for what the future looks like for books,” said Clancy. “And, in fact, the settlement is what we figured out for these predominantly out-of-print books, so it’s more about the past. And in fact we’ve done a lot of thinking about what is the role we want to play going forward in a digital book world, for new books.”
Part of Google’s vision, he noted, is that the digital content for any book a consumer purchases would be stored on that consumer’s “cloud library” (on Google’s servers) indefinitely, enabling him to access that same content, at any time now or in the future, on any digital device as well.
This aspect of Google’s vision seems to address many publishers’ goal for the ideal digital rights management system—that consumers could buy a book (essentially buying the rights to access the digital content of the book) and access that content on any and all devices they want (from their mobile phone to their laptop to their e-reader) as well as print the book, if they want, etc.
But doesn’t it also place Google smack in between publishers and consumers? Many have voiced concerns over this being the case with Amazon, believing that enabling one company to monopolize the position between publishers and consumers would give that one company too much control of content (pricing, etc.
Print-on-demand and book-at-a-time technology, such as the Espresso Book Machine and the InstaBook Maker, may enable this vision for the future to become a reality sooner rather than later. Its implementation would likely reshape the traditional book distribution model entirely, making inventory virtually obsolete, as well as retailer returns, a financially-draining problem which publishers have been increasingly focused on solving.
You can view the transcript of Clancy’s speech here.