Michael Healy gave his second lecture entitled, “The Google Book Settlement in Context,” on Monday, February 22nd at the Midtown Executive Club. Healy, who serves as the Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry, did not focus on the settlement but instead looked on current trends and shared his predictions on the future of the publishing industry.
In his first lecture in Fall 2009, Healy focused on the Google Book Settlement. He referred to the settlement as an “achievement we will look back on as one of the defining moments of digital book publishing.” Healy talked about how Google plans to digitize 35 million books, sell individual digital books, get revenue from advertisers, and allow one free copy to be available for every public school and university. He also discussed how digitizing so many books would open up collections to some of the greatest libraries in the world. For out of print books, it gives authors 63% of royalties for every book sold.
So far, Google has been able to digitize 12 million books, and a vast majority of those books are out of print. And even though Google is dealing with legal scrutiny, one thing that is irreversible, according to Healy, is Google’s commitment to this project. Even with some of the backlash, Google will continue with its plans.
Healy’s second lecture was a glimpse into the future. He discussed the industry’s “limitless enthusiasm with all things digital.” Last year, sales of electronic books counted for 2% of entire book sales. Although that doesn’t seem like much, Healy believes that this is a large breakthrough considering how far the industry has come in such a short time with the Kindle, the Sony E-reader, the Nook and now the iPad. “The ways in which we read are changing because of the devices on which we read,” Healy said. “We are reading more, but what is changing is what we read and how we read.”
What concerns Healy is how complacent publishers are even though the industry is changing. Healy mentioned that today’s consumers have no loyalties to publishers or imprints. “Success in the future will be in direct proportion to publishers who are willing to let go of old business practices and models,” Healy said. “Publishers who want to thrive better understand what their added value is to the industry.”