Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Google's Gravitational Pull

Google were not much in evidence at the Online show at Olympia this week. But they were much in the mind of publishers and aggregators that I met. Its rather odd to be at a trade show where by far the biggest actor is not present, but the influence is pervasive. This got me to wondering how one might measure the Gravitational Pull of Google Book Search. One measure would be the number of published titles available through GBS compared to the Kindle, Sony's eReader and other systems such as the iPhone. Here is a guess:

The Google figure of 7 million titles is based on the claims that have recently been made about the number of titles which they have added to Google Book Search through their library project ("and we're just getting started"). While it is true that the figures are not strictly comparable (and my guess for the iPhone is highly conjectural) the graph is telling. Google has a huge arsenal of titles in digital format and once they have a functioning way of licensing and selling access to their resources the Google Book Search library will dwarf all others.

Some people might read this graph and, shrugging shoulders, say that Google is the only game in town. But that does not seem quite right. A more balanced response would be to start with the proposition that any good digital books strategy is going to work alongside Google Book Search. The best strategies will work with it, even take advantage of the fact that it works to everyone's advantage.

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