Google has now enabled more complete access to online books.Unfortunately, Google did not bother making the new features available where it would be most valuable:
“With this agreement, in-copyright, out-of-print books will now beavailable for readers in the U.S. to search, preview and buy online –something that was simply unavailable to date.” Once again, Africa is neglected and we see nothing of that other favourite Google term: Net Neutrality. Here in South Africa, books are stupidly expensive. For example, if you buy The PayPal Wars from Exclusive Books, it will cost you R406 (approx $40). If you buy The PayPal Wars from Amazon.com, it will only cost you $10.85. But to understand the price difference, you also need to look at the relative cost of living in South Africa. In San Francisco, a pint of beer costs $5 and up. In South Africa, a pint costs about $1.50. Thus, if we are to look at (what I’d like to coin) a Global Beer Cost Index, the book will cost 2 pints in San Francisco. In South Africa, the book will cost 26 pints! That’s 13 times more! And I’m not even taking into account average salaries and complex economic indicators like the World Beer Index Then, you also have to take into account the lack of libraries in African countries and the unlikelihood that they’ll have a book such as The PayPal Wars in stock in the first place. So come on Google, make a bit of an effort! Providing access to online books to African readers will have a much higher impact than in the US where most people can easily afford to buy it or get it at their local library! In either case, I borrowed a copy of The PayPal Wars from a friend in San Diego. In the meantime, I’ll have a few more beers.