The Amateur Humanist points out that the recently struck agreement between book publishers and Google is a pretty big deal:
The broad significance of this arrangement is that it puts into place, really for the first time, an architecture able to suture the cross-cutting financial and ownership claims of the old (books) and new (digital) media, and in a way that returns royalty income to the original publishers while also making available millions of books still under copyright but not being currently printed (so far Google has already scanned seven million books). While the lawsuits were pending, Google simply made short clips available (a search would pull up the page on which sought terms appeared and the couple sentences before and after). Now, up to twenty percent of the volume can be displayed, and universities and colleges who buy access subscriptions will gain for their users full access, in effect adding millions of books to a given college’s library collection in an instant. And presumably the arrangement provides an incentive for other university libraries also to make available their collections for scanning, since by doing so they benefit from the collectively mammoth research database now likely to emerge.
That’s a giant leap forward.