Sherar's piece is about how he witnessed the newspaper industry's blase attitude about moving content online, and how he worries that book publishers are replicating this attitude. He posts a series of smart questions publishings folks should be considering at this juncture:
- Who will control access to digital books - will libraries merely trade their expensive-to-maintain collections for a subscription to Google books? Are libraries hastening their own obsolescence by allowing Google access to their collections?
- Will Amazon’s closed-platform standard for e-books prevail (the Kindle)?
- Will an author’s share of revenue on e-books be a traditional fixed percentage, or a variable, we’re-not-going-to-tell-you-what-we-received-from-your-work-but-here’s-a-quarter-go-buy-yourself-something-nice percentage of advertising revenue that Google might deign to dole out (as it does with ad revenue to site/blog owners)?
- Will e-books have ads in them? If you’re reading a romance book, are you going to see an ad for C14L1S in it?
- Will any company be able to realistically compete in e-book sales that isn’t a megacorp? For that matter, will any megacorp even be able to realistically compete with Google?
- Will authors simply bypass all traditional distributors, publishers, and retailers, producing and promoting their books directly?
- In a world of digital books and DMCA, what becomes of your ability to pass a book on to a friend, or re-sell it?
- Will Google be given permanent, court-ordered indemnification against breaking copyright law?