I've been arguing that Google is increasingly evil here for a while, and I've stumbled over another example that scares me a bit.

Take this search at books.google.com. This book, Manuel Castells' The Rise of the Network Society, recently released a new version. I ordered an older version to read and mark up. Note that the older version isn't on Google.

Google's Books interface, if my guess is correct, is, at least for academic books, looking to become not just a searchable database, but a publisher.

Pulling up well short of this -- I hope, but don't hold my breath, that Google will soon put the older version online as well. I want to see what's changed, and right now that's occasionally impossible. Google's "latest version is greatest" approach, for which I have only this slimmest of anecdotal evidence for now, essentially erases the potential of searching old versions. No, that's completely wrong. It only removes the barriers from doing highly productive searches on the latest version of the book. This means that, for all practical purposes, as books.google catches on in academia, the older versions will no longer exist, 1984 style. Castells' relatively unquestioned progressivism in his approach to labor and social improvement, along with his grossly inappropriate misuse of ecological metahpors for the purposes of unfairly and underhandedly misleading his audience, could be quickly swept away, or at least more cleverly hidden from each new edition's batch of readers.

Luckily here the new edition seems, in many areas, to be little more than a dusting off and renumbering of the old text as it is reprinted for a new generation of would-be academics. And I know this precisely thanks to Google's presentation of the new version coupled with Abebooks.com's ability to get me a used original for under $16 shipped. The power of exclusion still boggles my mind, as does Googles' process' provision for shipping us what used to be books like so much more licensed software.

Ah, which reminds me, I did mean to include an interesting snippet from the copyright text on the inner cover of the book.

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form or binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Can't tell if that means it's better to be in the US or not...