Mike Shatzkin writes about a serious issue facing big publishers. That issue concerns publication rights owned by publishers, and what they know or don’t know about those rights. This is something I’ve also thought about and it really is a big deal. Most publishers have a terrible system for storing rights information about a book they’ve published. That terrible system is typically paper based and searchability is extremely difficult. The ramifcations of this organizational nightmare will soon come to a head once Google builds the Book Rights Registry, something they’re compelled to do as part of their settlement with the AAP and the Author’s guild. Publishers will find that they need to invest lots of time and money into the process of pulling data from paper and inputing it into the Google database. My bet is they won’t do it, and as a result, thousands of books will remain orphaned. That’s a shame.
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