Traditional reference service is dead--- or dying. This blog will focus on new approaches toward providing library assistance to patrons... or whatever else I feel like rambling on about.

Friday, January 13, 2006

more comments on the over-hyped Google Book Search

Well, Google Book Search seems to be the hot topic these days. I did a search for fuel cells and the first entry was an Elsevier title, interesting. But what’s missing is the ability to buy the book directly online.

Ok, sure, Google is going to let us see a handful of pages- and then link to Amazon and other vendors—but they are missing that key step of instant gratification. I guess they see profits through users clicking the Amazon link – but I think it would be more user-friendly/efficient to allow online purchases and instant PDF downloads.

I ran another search for qualitative coding and the first entry was a Sage encyclopedia, which is good, however the font is too small on the references and I don’t have the ability to save, copy, print or adjust the text.

I have to say that Google is not living up to its potential. I saw that Amazon and Random House are going to test the pay-per-view model for books. This is the future… at least for academic titles. Many of the engineering students I help just need a chapter or a few pages of a text. If we don’t have the title, then they have to order it and wait. It would be more efficient to “use what you need”—however I fear publishers will follow the music industry in failing to see how the web has changed user behavior and expectations. I don’t want to buy a whole CD—I’d prefer to “obtain” a copy from a friend and keep the songs I like, however if you give me a cheap price like iTunes 99cents per song—then I’m more inclined to buy in.

We’ll see how things unfold. It would be interesting to hear from the ILL folks on this. Rather than spending $25-50 to borrow a book from MIT, why not pay a few dollars for the chapter the student needs and send it to them in PDF later that day, or better yet, provide them with a license to obtain the titles they need without us getting in their way.

Lots of doom and gloom talk out there— but we’ll see. We don’t want to become like Agent Smith—purposeless.

And just a side note: I think the library world’s reaction to Wikipedia is hilarious. You sound like my grandmother. Why do we choose to remain so archaic?