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google book excerpts

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Herbert Anchovy, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    Has anyone else wondered about the contractual legitimacy of Google or some other dot-com service publishing parts of one's books? Is anyone else pissed off about this? Granted, browsing a bookstore is not far different than sampling parts of a book online, but in Borders or Barnes those samples are not fixed and seemingly chosen at random.

    I would put it another way. When we produce a manuscript and a publisher turns it into a book at the recommendation of an editor, in due course, we try to make it appetizing to readers. A good book has a clear introduction, a discursive structure of the chapters moving the argument from beginning to conclusion, an index, illustrations and bibliography. Among other good things. Obviously we can't control how people read the books. They could read them frontwards, backwards, sideways, in small skiparound pieces during bathroom visits. But the structure of a book suggests to the reader how it should ideally be approached.

    Google's excerpts destroy that, and an author's aggravation at readers approaching the fruit or his or her labor through a set of disjointed fragments is understandable. At least allow the writer to choose the excerpts. The current way of doing things is like wanting to see a movie trailer as the studio and filmmaker wish the final body of work to be packaged, and getting a series of irrelevant blips and splices, because that's how a soulless machine decides things.
  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Lots of people have.

    You could spend a week reading everything pertaining to it and still not have a clue what the legality is.
  3. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    It reminds me of a story I heard about William Burroughs' composition of Naked Lunch. The story is that he wrote it up, dropped the sheets of paper on the floor (or maybe cut them up with scissors), then reassembled them into a manuscript and submitted it to his publisher in that order.
  4. I believe most movie trailers are, in fact, made with relatively little insight or control from the directors or producers. It's all going to be done under the guidance of marketers, who just want to convince people to see the movie. That's why so many trailers misrepresent movies (which may or may not backfire).

    Do most authors have any clue how to get customers to buy a book? Isn't that the whole purpose of the publisher? If these sort of excerpts are hurting sales (and many pubs seem to think they are, or could), they should fight it (and I believe many are). And if they're not, who cares? Artistic integrity of a work is great, but I'd rather someone buy something for the wrong reason than not buy it at all.
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