For the record, I am basically on the side of Google here. Sure I would love to make money out of the stuff I write, and to a modest extent I do. But I also believe that it's no good writing something and then hiding it behind several locked doors. If what you have produced is any good, then online readers who sample it for free may well buy a copy, or recommend it to their friends, or both. And even if they don't, then passing on the benefit of your experience and knowledge is surely worth doing without payment.
This reminds me of something I have discussed on this blog; used book sales. I've written again and again that when we consider the big picture we must conclude that the sale of used books helps authors. Not a lot of them buy that, however, and that still puzzles me. Publishers (and, increasingly, authors) drop big bucks on promotional efforts expecting to be paid back in sales. So why shouldn't we look at used book sales--and this Google deal--the same way? I vote that we stop squawking about how we're being cheated out of sales and start viewing these things as opportunities to get exposure for our books. Is it going to cost us something? Well, of course. Successful advertizing campaigns usually do.
The Bookman's closer gave me a chuckle:
It's my belief that Google will win in the end, because that's what common sense suggests. But then, of course, I have to ask myself a question: Since when did common sense have anything much to do with what goes on in the book world?