I can tell from the way my book The Quote Verifier gets referred to online these days that most of those who refer to it have only seen that work on Google Books. Needless to say this doesn’t please me. Better they should buy a copy, or at least look at it in the library. Recently, however, I wanted to try to verify a quotation used by Paul Krugman in his New York Times column: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Krugman attributed this insight to the oldtime radical Upton Sinclair, as did his colleague, the late news columnist Molly Ivins (constantly). When writing The Quote Verifier I tried to confirm that Sinclair had made this remark, without success. I doubted that he had. But now, when I entered the key words “Upton Sinclair” and “salary depends,” on Google Books, within seconds those very words appeared in a 1935 work by Sinclair.
Google giveth and Google taketh away.