The public library mission of equal access to all, however, argues against requiring fees for services, other than those nominal fees designed to prevent squandering of resources (e.g. 25 cents for each book put on hold), or cost recovery for consumable materials, like photocopy services. But generally speaking, once a user has entered the library, it's an "all you can eat" situation. This is not the nature of Google's online book service. The settlement agreement is incredibly complex in terms of what is free and what is pay-for. For certain works, a certain number of pages can be viewed for free, after which one must purchase the book to see the rest. The number of pages that can be printed may be limited, and there may be charges for printing.
We do know that public libraries will not be able to offer remote access to their free subscription, only on-site access. That, of course, excludes many users. We also know that there may be advertising included in the service, and it may include the ability to purchase books (online or in hard copy) and additional services. In other words, the library's users become the service's customers.
In the case of computer companies, giving away free product is a way to increase market share, influence future purchases, create good will at relatively low cost, and get a tax write-off for your efforts.While possibly cynical, it's also true. Giving away samples of your product is a time-worn approach to building a customer base.
Public librarians I have talked to are very concerned about this matter. There is still plenty of time to work out details, but is there a plan to engage a representative group of public libraries to do the planning? What happens if the service, as envisioned in the negotiations, doesn't meet the needs of public libraries, or doesn't fit in with their current online systems?Are there different needs and capabilities in large urban public libraries and small rural ones? Will it be possible to serve these equally?