The Architect of Innovative Publishing
He says this redistribution of attention is what he has seen on Safari.
“In studies comparing Safari usage with print book sales, we’ve noticed way more [online] usage of books on ‘the tail’ (to use Chris Anderson’s ‘Long Tail’ metaphor), and somewhat less use, on a percentage basis, of the books that are best-sellers in print,” he says. “In fact, there’s a kind of spike out at the end of the tail, a bit like a Stegosaurus tail, where people find really old books that are out of print, and not selling at all any more, but still valuable.”
Some of these could profitably be brought back into print via print-on-demand.
“And of course, that’s why I came to Google’s defense around the Google library scanning project. There are only about 1.2 million books in print, yet there are more than 30 million unique books in libraries,” he says. “It seems to me that we have data that argues pretty compellingly that search will help people find new value in old, abandoned works.”
O’Reilly says another major trend is the widespread availability of used books online.
“This is now an efficient marketplace, and used books are real competition for new books,” he says.
According to O’Reilly, search is one of the things that you can do online much better than you can do in print, and as Google has shown with the Web, it can drive enormous value, not just for the search engine itself, but for the whole ecosystem.
Another one of O’Reilly’s services exposed to the threat of piracy is its “PDF or Print” service that allows customers to purchase a book online at a discount, and either read it on screen or print it themselves.
“And so, with our PDF downloads, we watermark them, as a kind of moral deterrent, and to remind people that they aren’t for free redistribution. And we do play whack-a-mole with sites that redistribute our copyrighted content that is not under free redistribution licenses,” he says.