Thursday, March 22, 2012
Robin Hood Complex in Book Publishing
It is hard to feel sorry for Google, but the practice of Nabu Press does seem a bit over the line.
They print and distribute old books that are no longer copyright protected ― which of itself could be a convenient service to have available. So I found by accident a book they published (Henry Wilberforce Clarke's Longitude by Lunar Distances) and ordered a copy, done as a matter of reading convenience, as i already had a pdf version that Google had distributed at no charge.
And lo and behold, now I have too copies of this identical imprint. The Nabu folks simply removed the Google watermarks from the Google scanned pages and then printed and sold it (crooked pages, smeared sections, odd black marks, and all). There is no reference or acknowledgement to Google for the scanning and pdf production, not to mention the deception of removing the Google watermarks. It is unambiguously the same scan.
There are a lot of us who ponder the pros and cons of the Google scheme of scanning all the books in the world and posting them. They also do this with many books that are still in copy protection. I am not sure if the final legal judgement has been settled. It is all too complex. As an author who must do research, these books are a blessing; as an author who finds his own books fully scanned online for free preview without any permission given, I am still uncertain.
So now too we can ponder if this Nabu scheme is robbing the rich to give to the poor, or to give to those who are just not quite as rich ― or is it just "no honor among… whatever."