Scott Rosenberg has an interesting essay that traces the rise, development and possible future of Google Books and, to a lesser extent, similar efforts like Internet Archive and HathiTrust. Rosenberg’s narrative is largely one of decreasing momentum. He comments,
There are plenty of other explanations for the dampening of Google’s ardor [for Google Books]: The bad taste left from the lawsuits. The rise of shiny and exciting new ventures with more immediate payoffs. And also: the dawning realization that Scanning All The Books, however useful, might not change the world in any fundamental way.
But, interesting possibilities definitely remain on the horizon. While it remains to be seen what of those materialize, Google Books still provides a useful tool in its own niche area.
For the balance of Rosenberg’s discussion, see his original essay.