Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Google broke Carter memoir embargo last week

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If you missed Jimmy Carter on the Daily Show last night, no fear, you can watch the interview here. And if the interview makes you want to pick up Carter’s new memoir, White House Diary, you can do that here.

But last Wednesday, you could have read the first 50 pages of the book, thanks to Google. As the Washington Post’s Political Bookworm blog reported:

For a while you could have read Carter’s new preface, some other paratexts, and the first 50 pages of the diary — up to the entry for May 9, 1977. The slip-up didn’t seem to be Google’s fault. Different publishers negotiate different deals for the searchability of their books, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux makes a lot of its titles available for preview, generally a week or two before their release dates. (See Mark Feldstein’s “Poisoning the Press” and Michael Cunningham’s “By Nightfall,” both of which come out September 28.)

I asked John Sterling, editor of “White House Diary” and executive vice president of Macmillan, what happened here. Sterling reemphasized the Carter embargo. “We consider this the sort of glitch that is bound to happen occasionally given the technical complexities involved in coordinating the publication of books in both physical and electronic form,” he said, adding that he was going to work on taking the title down from Google books. And down it came.

Political books are not a core Embargo Watch subject, and others have put this in context well. But broken book embargoes do keep coming up.


Written by Ivan Oransky

September 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

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