Google has realised that books with expired copyrights are a goldmine of information.
Allow me to be Nostradamus for a moment and predict that this move might shift the global techntonic publishing plates and convince the paper obsessed that it's time to change and focus on computer readable books (which you can publish in smaller increments and revise without acknowledging the embarassing fact that you wasted paper the first time round). Once computer readable books overtake paper, the next step is express printing of very limited paper editions, because we still can't lug an expensive computer whereever we go, for instance, to a picnic in the park, without our wives rightly being angry at us for spoiling the picnic. (But we can bring a handheld)
The first thing that came to mind, rather strangely, was the island of misfit toys in the Christmas Special Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer. Perhaps my brain needs rewiring! Actually, the brain apparently remembers more about this childhood classic then the conscious mind does:
"When there is a strong fog, Santa relies on Rudolph as a beacon, and Rudolph gets them to the Island of Misfit Toys and at the end, the toys are given homes (they are dropped out of the sleigh behind the credits via umbrellas)."
Read The Guardian
The Guardian really captures the relevance of this revolutionary move. As a denizen (actually "intense user" is more appropriate since I don't sleep in the library) of U.C. Berkeley's library when I am in the United States, I realize you have to actually stroll through the stacks to understand the vast store of untapped knowledge waiting there to be liberated:
Google says it aims to make the world's books "discoverable online" by offering both well known classics and obscure titles on every conceivable subject. The search engine's foray into the world of books has riled publishers around the world but the company's academic backers were keen to stress yesterday that it had been misunderstood.
Reg Carr, director of Oxford University's Bodleian Library, a partner in the project, said it would open up the world of literature and make available more obscure titles such as scientific tracts and long-forgotten poetry from the 18th century.
"Public domain books, long out of copyright and seen only by the fortunate few in the great research libraries of the world, are about to come out of the closet in their millions and into the homes of internet users all over the world."