Friday, October 08, 2004

Does Removing the Middle Link Make the Chain Stronger?

Google has announced its newest endeavor, Google Print, which offers Google users the ability to search the text of books. To date, ten publishers have signed on to the project, which is somewhat similar to's "Search Inside the Book" feature. Publishers are looking hopefully at the project as a way to disintermediate the sale of books by possibly including direct links to the publisher of a book next to the search results.

Librarians have long viewed the rise of the Internet and the monster search engines like Google and Yahoo as disintermediators of their services as well. Booksellers' and librarians' responses to the "threat" could be similar: 1) embrace the technology, don't fight it; 2) further differentiate yourselves with personal, top-flight service; 3) market your advantages to the hilt. Google Print or Amazon "Search Inside the Book" are to be understood, but not feared.

Edward Wyatt, "New Google Service May Strain Old Ties in Bookselling," The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2004, p. C3.