I spoke to Matthew Gray, lead software engineer of Google Books Search Quality about the visibility of ebooks on Google.
"Our goal is making all the world's information universally accessible and useful, and we believe that a lot of the world's information is in books," he said. "So it's important to us to make that information available. If you need to know something about a disease, or a travel destination, there's good chance the best information is in a book."
For publishers who are members of Google's free Google Books Partner Program -- 35,000 publishers have joined since it launched in 2005 -- every book's content is indexed and made available in the search engine's universal, blended search results. An Internet searcher can usually scroll through about 20 pages of text around the search result, depending on the publisher's preference. Books that are out of copyright are 100 percent available to Internet searchers. For books with hazy copyrights -- the books that are covered by the proposed Google book settlement -- Google serves up much shorter snippets of text around the search result.
In all three cases, books are "discoverable" on the search service. For example, during the financial meltdown of late 2008, Internet users searching for "economic crash" discovered "The Great Crash of 1929" by John Kenneth Galbraith, first published in 1955, one of thousands of books on the backlist of Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Normally, Galbraith's book would have faded from public attention, but the book's contents were a good match for the search query, and it benefited from the visibility on Google.
Read more on O'Reilly Radar: How to get Google to notice your ebook.