There’s another article on the New York Times concerning Google’s effort to digitize books and the recent class-action settlement that fell in their favour. From the article:
Like the oil barons in the late 19th century, Google is thirsty for a vital raw material — digital content. As Daniel J. Clancy, the engineering director for Google Book Search, put it, “our core business is about search and discovery, and search and discovery improves with more content.”
He can even sound like a prospector when he says Google began its effort to scan millions of books “because there is a ridiculous amount of information out there,” he said, later adding, “and we didn’t see anyone else doing it.”
The idea that all of these books will be searchable is certainly appealing to me, but personally a digitized book will never replace a physical copy for me. With the medium of technology as it is now I can enjoy reading newspapers and short to medium articles digitally, but reading through something like Foucault or Aristotle on a screen would simply be intolerable for me. With that said I have yet to try some of the newer forms of digital books (e.g. the Kindle and Classics for the iPhone). Maybe it’s just a computer screen that I can’t handle reading a book on, but until something proves to me otherwise I will not be convinced of a digital presentation for books.