Google gets all the books to search?

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Over at the Boing Boing blog, the writers complain about the new online book search rights that Google just won in a class action suit settlement. It’s a little tricky to parse out what this means, but it looks like if you have a book in print now, or ever did, Google can include its contents in a search result. This sentence kind of sums it up: “Google is the only company in the world that will have a clean, legal way of offering all these books in search results.”

Google, in acceding to the Authors Guild’s requests, have attained a legal near-monopoly on searching and distributing the majority of books ever published.The Authors Guild — which represents a measly 8,000 writers — brought a class action against Google on behalf of all literary copyright holders, even the authors of the millions of “orphan works” whose rightsholders can’t be located. Once that class was certified, whatever deal Google struck with the class became binding on every work of literature ever produced. The odds are that this feat won’t ever be repeated, which means that Google is the only company in the world that will have a clean, legal way of offering all these books in search results.

We all love Google, don’t we? From the “search the Web by speaking” iPhone application to the wonderful shopping vistas, Google runs the online universe. But if I had a book out, and I wasn’t one of the select 8,000 Authors Guild members, I’d be scrambling now to find out if my book’s online rights were still mine to control. As the article says, challenging this settlement in court is going to be costly.

Not something to worry yourself about if you’re still doing the writing and editing. This doesn’t affect the practice of your writing art. It might reduce your ability to earn a living off a book, though. That thunder you hear in the air is the sound of Google’s scanners warming up, ready to hoover up the pages of your book for a free search result on the Internet. Yeah, Amazon is big. But Google is bigger, smarter and hungrier.

SF (and fiction) basics, books online

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Tor Books is giving away free SF novels through Sunday. I am a big fan of Battlestar Galactica (a SF TV series that is more well-crafted war drama than SF). Downloaded the novel that Tor has published, based on the series, to enjoy the story in print. Well written, indeed.

The author of this Battlestar Galactica novelization, Jeffrey A. Carver, has a Web site with great advice on getting over basic missteps in any kind of writing, as well as the specifics of creating an entertaining SF world.

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

And don’t forget to download your free books. Tor is ending the program, which probably rattled some cages in sales for this Macmillan imprint, on Sunday. Maybe most important is what Tor is doing now: putting everything it sells in electronic format, if the big publisher has online rights.

Tor’s Patrick Nielsen Hayden notes: “Tor parent company Macmillan is actively converting all titles to which we have digital rights. It really is just a matter of time before the majority of our library is available in e-book form…. There are issues of workflow and rights, just as there are everywhere else. I think you’ll see lots more e-books in lots more formats in the next few months.”

Submissions, Part 2

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Some literary publications never make it to paper. The Web world hosts untold numbers of what are sometimes called “zines.” It may not be any easier getting your writing published in an online lit mag. But there are more of them out there than the printed versions — and getting a look at the finished editions happens much faster. The lag between reading time and publication is shorter when there’s no printer or distribution in the process.

One of the pieces of paper from my 2006 AWP tour:

Just a simple business card, instead of a postcard printed in four colors.

Carve is named after the short story titan Raymond Carver. You can read their magazine online at carvezine.com. They have a yearly contest, judged by a PEN Award winner, with a top prize of $1,000. Unlike paper lit mags that are run by college students, Carve and these online pubs don’t have a formal reading period.

The odd part of the story: Carve Magazine doesn’t accept online submissions yet. Yup, postage and paper to get you in the door. For now, as most of the lit mags say.