I went as Tim suggested to print.google.com. I had no idea Google was doing this, though it appears pretty similar to what Amazon.com has been doing for a while. I have no fully formed opinion on the matter, but my gut reaction is, as long as they have some protections in place to prevent excessive downloading of copyrighted work, it’s probably a good thing. I mean, I put chapters of my books up on my web site in hopes that people will read them and become interested enough to want to read the whole book. This seems like one more way for someone to stumble across your work and maybe buy it, or at least read it. And the material, as I understand it, is supplied by the publishers.
The startling thing was seeing my brother’s book listed under a search of my own name. He’s Charles S. Carver, a psychology professor and coauthor of a well-regarded textbook in personality, as well as a scientific monograph, On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, published in 1998. I was surprised not just at seeing his book, but at seeing a reference to a quote from my novel Panglor in it. I’d completely forgotten that he’d quoted me in his work of serious science. But I pulled my copy of his book off the shelf, and yep, there it was, at a chapter head. That was kind of a cool rediscovery.
By the way, for the same reason I approve of this, I’m glad that used copies of my books are so readily available on the net. Even if it cuts out a few new sales (not that many, I’m guessing), it makes it easy for curious—or impecunious—readers to give my stuff a try. And it’s not as if the publishers are keeping the books in print forever. (The one place where this does grate is when I see Amazon listing used copies of a new book on the date of publication–or even before–which means people are selling off review copies. Still—that’s not as bad as finding one of your own books at a yard sale, with the cover torn off. That has happened to me.) Despite the occasional wince, though, I figure there’s generally no such thing as bad exposure.