You may or may not have heard of the settlement of the Google Books lawsuit, but if you have any interest in the future of books or libraries, you may wish to read about it in the Official Google Blog.
For many years, Google has had an ambitious project to digitize all of the world's books. Yes, all of them. In 2005, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google challenging the project. The settlement of that lawsuit just occurred. You may want to read about the terms of the settlement, especially if you are the owner of a copyright to an out-of-print book. One of the major effects of the settlement is that the agreement is to make many of these out-of-print books available for preview, reading and purchase in the U.S. and helping to ensure the ongoing accessibility of out-of-print books.
To quote Google's summary, "Once this agreement has been approved, you'll be able to purchase full online access to millions of books. This means you can read an entire book from any Internet-connected computer, simply by logging in to your Book Search account, and it will remain on your electronic bookshelf, so you can come back and access it whenever you want in the future."
You can certainly see that many of the books of genealogical interest will be included in this vast collection. Right now in October, 2009, a search in Google Books on the term "genealogy" returns 30,417 book references.