Google Toolbar: like a beloved butler, and a great way to support your favorite authors

More on why the Google Toolbar — which you can ask to rewrite the webpages you look at to link ISBN to Amazon records and addresses to map displays — is good news:

  • My cow-orker Fred von Lohmann posts this great analogy: "Imagine I have a butler whom I task with going through what drops into my mail slot each morning. His job? To annotate my snail mail. He goes through the advertising circulars and researches whether better prices are available anywhere else. He gets me a map of every return address. Maybe I ask him to anticipate needs I don't even know I have yet. If he does something I don't like, I replace him… Of course, we have to make sure the butler doesn't try to take over and act like a jail warden (i.e., monopolists forcing you to take a butler). And we don't want the butler to sneak into your house when you're not looking (i.e., spyware). But Google's Toolbar seems to be a pretty good butler — it's not like he hides his presence, and you can fire him anytime you like (it's not as though Google's leading position in search gives it much ability to force its butler on you; you can choose from lots of other 'toolbar' apps that can submit searchs to Google)."
  • Plenty of Cowbell asks whether I like the sight of an ISBN corresponding to one of my books being rewritten. My answer: Hell ya! This shows how an authors' association like the Science Fiction Writers of America could collect its members' ISBNs and affiliate IDs for their favorite web-stores and provide plugins that would rewrite every single instance of my ISBNs on pages viewed through the plugin with a link to my affiliate account on Amazon, making me some serious coin. Wanna support an author? Install her plugin and help her feed her kids. Wanna support a charity? Install its plugin and have all the affiliate links rewritten to its benefit. Wanna support youself? Install the plugin that rewrites every ISBN with your own affiliate ID.