Break Up Google

Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller–American greats and American robber barons of a bygone era. The era may be gone, but American robber barons are as current as Twitter–at least that’s what Daniel Lyons thinks.

He points out that Amazon gets 70 cents of every dollar someone spends on a subscription to your blog or your newspaper or even Newsweek, in which Lyons’s article appears. Does that sound ridiculous to you? It does to Lyons and to antitrust lawyer David Boies, who has been hired to fight such monopolistic activities. But these new cyberbarons can get away with it because, well, because they are virtual monopolies. As Lyons says,

In the analog world, the lion’s share of the money ended up in the hands of big, bad media barons. This time around, the geeks in Silicon Valley are pocketing all the dough. Ironically enough, they present themselves as a bunch of pious, sweet-natured nerds who aren’t doing this for the money–they’re all about making the world a better place.

I wonder if the oil, rail and coal barons ever said anything similar? “We’re just providing transportation and energy to make this a better world. It takes a lot of money to do such things on a massive scale. We have to be big–to help the world.”

The further irony is that the original dream of many for the internet was complete freedom for content creators to publish, produce, promote and sell without the constraints of media giants. What has happened, though, is that Amazon, Google, Apple and a few others have largely taken control.

A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t afraid to bust the trusts. I wonder if we don’t need another cyber roughrider to come along and break up Google.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

8 thoughts on “Break Up Google”

  1. Ruth and I are delighted to see the book by you and Linda Doll. We would have written directly to Linda but we lost contact a year or two ago when she changed her e-mail address. Please pass on our congratulations! Ruth (a former staffer) and I have been saying, after reading about your volume, can’t we do the same with His magazines? It has been a world model for so many years. Some of its earlest articles are timeless, others are more dated. Someone should make a judicious selection and issue a book on the “Timeless HIS.”

  2. I finally took a look at One of the authors who brought joy to my childhood was Edgar Rice Burroughs so I decided to search for his titles.

    There were many of course. But for me to get them on my Kindle took some effort so I chose one title and clicked the link to Amazon that was helpfully placed there for me by Google.

    So the title wasn’t free since someone had already done the conversion for my Kindle but at $ .80 it was pretty close to free.

    But in reading the page I noticed in the “others have bought” area a link to a collection that was also available for the Kindle. It contained 50 complete books. The cost was $4.79.

    The reviews were interesting to me. There were 12 and one was 3 stars out of 5. The complaints though were about sort order on the Kindle or that some title was not included that the reviewer thought should have been.

    In the end I didn’t buy it as I have about a dozen books underway now. But I was tempted.

    The Google PDF and TXT versions and even the Scribd reader versions just have no allure for me whatsoever even at free.

  3. Terry

    Thanks for that. I’m very interested in the actual experiences users have of these various options.


  4. There really are differences between electronic editions on the Kindle. I’ve noticed those differences in newspapers, magazines, and books I’ve read. I doubt seriously I am the only one.

    I tried Time and thought it was just terrible. The articles weren’t so bad but the formatting and production values for the Kindle at least were simply terrible.

    I’ve tried several newspapers include USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The only one I’ve kept is my local paper, The Oklahoman. It is very good, particularly on the Kindle 2. The former were awful.

    Many of the books have been pretty good but many have had significant problems.

    A working table of contents seems reasonable to me but not all have it. In the case of nonfiction I think a little summary with the table of contents is a good idea. If there are tables or graphs or other references then it would be really nice to have those linked. In the case of images it would be nice to have ones that are optimized for whatever platform.

    I am amazed, too, at how sloppy the editing has become even in works by significant authors and publishers. Seems to me that at least spelling errors might be better handled. Another thing along that line is hyphenation. Apparently it is difficult.

    There is also the time consideration. I would pay more (and have) for new editions although I understand many wouldn’t. But I think there should be something special about first digital editions but I’m not sure what.

    I do think there are ways that publishers and authors can distinguish themselves in the electronic book arena.

  5. To whom it concerns:

    There have been many works of well known authors and some not so well known that as I read I find myself wondering why, with all the tools and checks that are available today, there are so many literary mistakes being made? Not only does that say that we really don’t care about our own standards but we don’t care what our examples tell our children and all the generations that are coming behind us. Often the thoughts have run through my mind that people don’ just care anymore about anything or anyone except themselves. We were told that that attitude would become prelevant in the days before He comes agian so let us make sure that we are each one ready when He does come.

  6. Maybe some are “recovering perfectionists,” practicing the grace of accepting a few mistakes within themselves and others.

  7. Well Google has some of the absolute best web resources available on the internet for free, and Amazon sells books so cheap they have to get their money from somewhere.

    I say keep the government out of it. We are so indulged in socialism any more government interaction with the private sector will make me vomit. Let Capitalism have her way, its the best for all of us!

    Aegrescit medendo!

  8. Hunter,

    Google has provided an amazing array of resources at no cost to consumers. It’s an great achievement that has served many well. For well over 100 years it has been an American tradition to put limits on business enterprises. Largely America has thrived economically during that time–and is still the largest and most powerful economy in the world. When limits are more lax, as they have been in the last twenty years, things can deteriorate, as we’ve seen in the last couple years. Capitalism? Definitely. Unbridled capitalism? Probably not.

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