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Is Google's Book Search the Chicken or the Egg?

Google's latest defense of its Book Settlement in Europe has provided an illuminating window into Google's own cultural-self-awareness of Google's dominant market power over books/content.

In August 23 New York Times:

  • We believe that we are helping the industry tremendously by creating a way for authors and publishers to be found,” said Santiago de la Mora, Google’s head of printing partnerships in London.

  • Search is critical. If you are not found, the rest cannot follow."

The strong implication from Google here is that authors were in proverbial "nowheres-ville" before Google "discovered," copied and indexed them -- proving that Google is the real value creator here... not the author of the content/book.

  • Google is candidly acknowledging its unique and dominant market power over books because Google is the only entity in the world with the resources, the business model, the low opinion of the value of content on the Internet (it should be "free"), and the legal strategy to illegally copy literally millions of copyrighted books without permission.

What is more valuable the content or the search?

  • Search is critical. If you are not found, the rest cannot follow."
  • Sounds like Google is now implying, in the context of the increasingly beleaguered Google Book Settlement,  that search is the chicken and content is the egg.
    • Common sense tells us that that the content was the chicken and search the egg since the books were around before Google even existed.
    • Moreover, before the Book Settlement, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt said in ZDNet: "Search is only as good as the content, so it makes sense for us to do everything we can to get higher quality content."   

The ultimate judgement of whether the Google Book Settlement is anti-competitive is the extent that Google values itself as the chicken that produces/mothers/nurtures/controls the eggs going forward...

  • If Google is confident in Mr. de la Mora's public recent assessment of Google's market power, that "if you are not found, the rest cannot follow" then Google believes they are effectively the only way these books will be found. 
    • Thus, they are in effective control of much of the book industry.  
  • Some could even see a veiled threat in Mr. de la Mora's statement, "if you are not found..." The nagging concern lingers... could Google "arrange" for a book/author to not be found?