Google Books will save the world

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Libraries exist to promote a public good: "the encouragement of learning," learning "Free to All." Businesses exist in order to make money for their shareholders--and a good thing, too, for the public depends on a profitable economy. Yet if we permit the commercialization of the content of our libraries, there is no getting around a fundamental contradiction. To digitize collections and sell the product in ways that fail to guarantee wide access would be to repeat the mistake that was made when publishers exploited the market for scholarly journals, but on a much greater scale, for it would turn the Internet into an instrument for privatizing knowledge that belongs in the public sphere.

Darnton 11

The subject matter in this chapter actually deals directly with my research paper. However, it turns out I have an opposing view from Darnton. I think it's a wonderful thing that Google Books is trying to digitize our libraries. Even if you can't print out the documents that Google Books provides, it at least gives readers the chance to look at information they would otherwise not have any access to. If it weren't for Google, few people would ever see a copy of Middlemarch, which now seems unfair thanks to Google.
In my research for my rough draft of my final paper, I found that even in digitizing a multitude of books, Google prohibits a lot of the preview. In fact, very few books have full preview; most are limited to snippet view or limited preview. As I argue in my paper, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because Google's kind of keeping the physical book industry and the library industry afloat. By limiting what readers can view, it forces them to make a decision concerning the preview they just witnessed. It saves researchers a ton of time as well. If the book's preview isn't what you're looking for, move on. If it is, and you need more information, just go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of the book. I don't see what all the fuss is about. Even if Google is making a profit with what they're doing, they're also benefiting the general public, because without their digital copies of a lot of books, there would be a lot less out there for us to use. Gasp! Think about it...we might actually need to go to a library to do research instead of just sitting  in front of a laptop all day.

EL 336

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