You're overstating Google's contribution IMHO. Here's another point of view.
Regarding older public domain books, Google's efforts aren't very good, they get about a D for quality. You can check out the Internet archive, it has digitized copies of many pre-1900 works that were digitized by several companies independently. You'll find the company name in the files. I'm not a fan of M$, but their scans are way nicer than Google's. And if you compare with the works of some libraries such as the one in Goettingen, it's night and day.
Part of the reason is that Google's priorities are warped. They wanted to race ahead, digitize everything before anyone else. So they chose low resolution scans because that's faster. They hid their technology from the librarians who gave them the books, because OMG competitors! and they did a 60% OCR job on the easiest and cleanest books while completely ignoring the hard cases [eg mathematics, multilingual, etc].
The other thing their urgency got us was a legal morass. Google evilly just went ahead to scan all books, and published them on the web, while more responsible competitors were slowed down by getting permission first from the rights holders. When Google was too far ahead, the competing projects folded, and Google got (rightly) sued by the authors guild. That in turn caused a chilling effect on the projects that were left.
Now nobody wants to revisit the problem of orphan and older works, we're stuck with shitty google scans that are barely readable and full of OCR mistakes, and there's no telling how long we'll be having even that available freely on the web.
We didn't need to have Google do the bang up job they did. The world was cruising along, slowly digitizing works with care. Many universities were researching the issues, solving them one at a time, properly.
Does anyone remember the Indian/US/Chinese million books project?
The best hope for the future now is the underground. At least the pirates care about producing quality releases - whether it's movies, music, or books. And they don't care about money, so the next generation will be able to download illegal books and educate themselves for free like many people do today.