Google have announced an API to their Book Search service. Some explanation and a demonstration of how this can be used at the Librarything. Publishers may be uneasy about the way this tips the information flow about books in the direction of Mountain View (Eoin already is). Amazon and the major publishers must be thinking about the implications of this: will all commercial transactions go with a Google information flow?
The API could be either a step in the direction of Google becoming the primary source of all books through the web (its an API to the viewability of books, but access rights go with viewing opportunities, and it would not be so difficult to extend the API so that it interacts with Google Checkout). For the sake of a healthy publishing industry one hopes that there will be many alternative and additional sources for access to digital books. Google has to build an API (it certainly should not be criticised for doing so) but its implementation and regulatory focus on Google’s dominant position could become a matter of concern — also to Google.