It’s been a while since I lost my shit about something to do with being a book writer. Leave it to the Authors Guild to get me back to it.

Google has been doing a thing for over a decade now, and that thing is benign at worst and amazeballs at best: they’ve been scanning millions of print books and making them searchable online. You may have heard of this. It’s named in that descriptive way Google names their things. It’s called Google Books.

When you search Google Books, it returns snippets from its scanned books that are relevant to your search. It does not return the entire text of books. It does not return even a huge portion of a book. It returns a snippet. You may be familiar with snippets, because those are what Google returns when you search the web, too.

Google Books will also display quite a sizeable excerpt of a book on the book’s page, along with a link to purchase a digital copy of the book. For example, you can read the introduction and quite a lot of the first part of my most recent book right here. Do I feel threatened that you can read a fair chunk of my book online for free? No, I am not at all threatened. That’s because I think having a chance to read some of my book allows prospective buyers to decide if it’s right for them. If they know it’s right for them, they’ll be far more likely to buy it, and enjoy it. If it’s not right for them, well, then they’ll know that too. That’s not threatening to me. That’s a damned valuable service. I want as many people to read my book as possible, and to enjoy it. So I want people to get to know the book before they buy it, so that if they buy it, they’ll be quite likely to enjoy it. This is a valuable service, you see. A valuable service.

Well, the Authors Guild, grand protectors as they are of rights that are not actually under threat, has been suing Google Books for ages and ages. They assert that Google is infringing on authors’ copyright. Google asserts that their transforming of books into digital snippets is covered under fair use.

The courts have been, thankfully, siding with Google.

When I read this summary of the recent court ruling against the Authors Guild, I did what I usually do when the Authors Guild does dumb things: I took to Twitter. But Twitter isn’t what it used to be when it comes to immediate conversation, and I impressed myself with the soundness of my rant, so I want to put it all here on the blog so you can read it in its entirety and maybe respond as you see fit:

And there you have it. I don’t know why some authors think they need to fight their readers to make a living. I sure prefer celebrating my readers and using every tool available to me to try to grow their ranks.

PS If you’ve read any of my books, thank you. I love you. Please tell your friends and your library and your local book store, and leave a rating on your favourite bookish site so more people can find out about them.

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