In a pattern familiar to anyone who has watched the repeated claims by the content industry that some new copyright violation is going to “kill” their business, a study on the economic impact of Google Book Search shows that having a searchable catalog of books has apparently helped publishers a lot more than it has hurt.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt posts a summary of the study, which shows that affected publishers’ profits grew faster on average in the years after the project than the years before. Publishers who did not opt out of the publishing partner agreement also saw large increases in revenues and profits.
This puts me in mind of the VCR, which thirty years ago Jack Valenti famously compared to the Boston Strangler, but subsequently formed the basis for an entirely new business sector in Hollywood that accounts for significantly more revenue than theatrical showings today. Who knows what Google Books will have made of the publishing industry thirty years from now?