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Reaction, New Directions for Google

Bryan Appleyard attended the Google Unbound conference last week and files his report on the proceedings, which is interesting enough, but what caught my attention was his assertion that it’s not the readers who will have the final say on how books are read, but teachers. “They will determine whether people will read for information, knowledge or, ultimately, wisdom. If they fail and their pupils read only for information, then we are in deep trouble. For the net doesn’t educate and the mind must be primed to deal with its informational deluge. On that priming depends the future of civilisation. How we handle the digitising of the libraries will determine who we are to become.”

Meanwhile, the Times reports that Google is in the process of working on a system, not unlike an iPod, that would allow readers to download entire books to their computers in a format that they could read on screen or on mobile devices such as a Blackberry. Jens Redmer, director of Google Book Search in Europe, said: “We are working on a platform that will let publishers give readers full access to a book online.” He did not believe taking books online would mean the end of the printed word but it would give readers more options when it came to buying. “You may just want to rent a travel guide for the holiday or buy a chapter of a book. Ultimately, it will be the readers who decide how books are read,” he said.

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