Amazon has announced a book-scanning project --- and it's figured out a way to please authors and publishers, spread around the money for everyone, and do the right thing for readers. Google should sit up and take notice.
The Amazon plan will scan copyrighted books and let readers search through them. It will offer paid online access to parts or all of the book, and the payment will depend on the book, and on how much of the book someone wants available.
There's also an option to buy the physical book, and then have access to the full text of the book online as well.
This keeps everyone happy. Copyright holders are paid fairly for their works, and readers can buy only portions of books they want to use.
The Google plan, which will scan and make available books without copyright holders' permissions, is mired in legal battles. The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild are both suing Google, and some librarians have weighed in against the company as well.
Amazon's move will make it the premier site for getting book content online. Antoinette Marty, analyst for Current Analysis, told TechWeb that Amazon.com was "speeding past Google in the digital book domain," because of Amazon's innovative plan, and Google's fumbling.