Monday, February 23, 2009

On Google Books: Access

On Google Books: Access

I believe that I as the user should be able to set the access that I need for any particular value of books.  In a library I do not get charged for a book unless I do not return it.  In a situation such as the electronic library it would be difficult to impose such restrictions, and still offer the full text as I believe that should be available to the user, if they so desire it.  Full text should never be the default, although providing the user with the option to make it their particular setting would also be useful.  However the details of such a program by which one should have to pay some fee for access, as Google no doubt should have to pay to host such access, although to be perfectly honest, I do not put stock in the publishing industry, who nearly always takes more than they are worth, providing writers with the least they can negotiate, and although I do not begrudge them the ability to negotiate, it is my hope that electronic publishing will soon level the field and provide a better portion of the proceeds to the writers, even if they are not able to negotiate the deals that agents are able to get for "star" writers.  There is a fundamental breakdown in the publishing system, and it can not be fixed in this treatise.  However that does not negate the fact that access to the published works is desirable by more than those who would have access through normal retail channels, or who like me, do not carry books anymore, but prefer the books to be available i9n a format that can be readily accessed through the Internet.

How does this solve the problem I have with Google Books?  I am willing to pay for access, as long as it is valuable and in the fashion that I feel would be most equitable to me the user.  Obviously a strait subscription would be the easiest formula, but not appropriate to Google's model, or my desire.  Furthermore, there are more valuable text that would seem to lend themselves to more likely access, and others that have value as a resource, requiring repeated views for the same user.  Current Best Sellers would lend themselves to popularity (especially if Oprah says so), and for this reason should command a premium access fee for their viewing, by whatever means.  As such they would be a single view option, making them only viewable on a viewer as per view, so no matter what view the user was using the view would be considered original and costed as such.  This would mean that obviously the book would have to be made to not download, not even to cache, which would make viewing difficult, unless as such when the viewer chooses, they can purchase a longer term session, that could include a download option, at an appropriate cost to value.  This is the simplest formula, as such the viewer is either paying a low cost view price, by which they are only given limited immediate access, no cache, and would require obviously streaming technology that protected copy rights, and agreements with the user that the provider (Google in this case) would have sufficient access to destroy the cache that would be needed to provide the view that is being purchased.  This would obviously require a certain amount of refinement, and assurances that Google would do no more damage to the system than was necessary to provide for the protection of the publisher.  Further refinement might employ intelligent document forms that are self destructive, and encrypted as such that only through the use of such allowed devices or agreements paid for by the user could the document be accessed in full by the user.  Technology may not at this time be available for such service, although I have seen some that offer some such purposes, be it that this technology is currently in use only in University labs, and not yet available to commercial entities, it is possible that soon they will be available in forms that will be usable by commercial providers.

Another condition is reference materials that may be useful on a repeated basis.  Although a small per use fee again could be leveraged, I as the user should have the option to pay either a per use fee for the resource, or a another format, which could include a subscription component and/or another format, which may be a different format yet.  I should be able to decide if I want to subscribe to a particular book, or particular set of books, or even a subject, or other such possible combinations of subscription authorities.  If I want a particular book, say a cook book, this one time because I may only want the recipe for a particular meal, from a particular cook book, then this would represent a single access.  However because it would be optional to download this particular reference material, it should therefore be reflected in the cost that I may not need additional access only because I have that reference now on my hard drive or other device, or printed out, either way, I have that reference and no longer need it, however for this I should and would pay  higher per view price, as this would be related to my control of the document.  Furthermore if I wanted to place the file on another device, say a portable device that I could use in another location, this would represent a use that would no t be covered in a single use, so this should again be reflected in the costing model of single view with download options.  My basis for this is if I pay a dollar for a view of a recipe from a book, I want to be able to keep that recipe, and not have to pay to download it again, and I should therefore be able to transfer it from my desktop computer hard drive to my portable tablet computer or PDA or whatever (cell phone included) provided I paid for the use of this particular document.  This is obviously not an entire book, but some portion of it.  Obviously for an entire book I would pay a higher price, however that price should reflect the value of the resource.  I have contemplated the use of Google's costing models, and I do not think that advertising will be sufficient for the purposes this is intended for, although I do agree that it should be integrated, and as such it should be highly targeted towards what would be useful in the particular situation.  However I also have a particular slant on the Google advertising model which should be treated separately from this particular treatise.

In development of the costing model it should be taken into account that pennies are important, and that most cost should be some portion of a penny rather than some value that is more likened to a retail value.  In all aspects this is a wholesale transaction based on the access by Google, rather than by the access by an individual user, and as such in addition to their potential for advertising and therefore the publisher's potential for revenue share of that advertising potential, it should be reflected in the values set for access and usage of the books and or articles listed with Google.  As such I would be willing to pay some portion of a penny for access to a document, and maybe some portion of a dollar for greater access, and/or some type of portion of a dollar per month for access that I determined would be worth that particular cost.

The problem is if I want to find the book for free I can, at least for now.  I do not see in the foreseeable future a means that will prevent this access to full documents, as long as the network remains relatively open, which it will at least for now.  This being the case, it may behoove publishers to accept that which they can get in exchange for getting nothing.  It does not take much to make an honest person honest, but if they feel they are being taken by the very people who are screaming they are being taken, the problem is not solvable.  The recording industry is quite beset by a similar situation, and they will eventually lose if they are able to see the wisdom in being the ones who make the concession to the customer, because the customer will find new an novel ways to provide for their needs.  I believe in the Google concept, and hope that at some point it does pervade every aspect of life, providing information and knowledge at a reasonable cost, as this would certainly be of service to the customers.  However even if Google does do this to some extent and I feel fairly confident that they intend to, and that at least as long as the current executives can keep their heads they will achieve what would be otherwise impossible by other organizations (mostly because of ignorance and greed).  However there is the potential for Google to fall prey to the investors, and with this also others, who may feel that they are better able to determine what the consumer wants, and with that the fall of Google would be eminent.  As with Microsoft, who struggles against a tide they are no longer in control of, they will thrive only if they can change their approach to the consumer.  They may still command a lead in some areas of the computer industry, but I have seen the future and for Microsoft to continue on their same set path of closed profiteering based on inferior products with an economic model that does not reflect the reality that is fast on their heels, they will fail, and they will fail because of their own undoing.  I so not see this same fate for Google, if they are able to understand that the customer is not the dame, they are not unable to grow with the technology provided them, and they are able to seek out new frontiers, and even if the pioneers of these new frontiers are few in number now, the not so distant future indicates that the followers will be quick to catch up, at least to what the pioneers are currently doing, although in truth pioneers are always thus, and as such, the rest of the people will always follow in their wake, but anyone that does not realize this can be capsized as this wake is widened by the followers slower but much larger tugs.

I hope this helps.