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Friday, October 12, 2012

Books in the News - GoogleBooks

Posted by Staff

Perhaps you've heard of Google's attempt to digitize books and make them available to the public.  There has been controversy about this project for a number of years (mainly surrounding copyright issues), and as of this summer, Google Books had managed to scan 20% of all books published (approximately 25 million books).  On the surface that many not sound like much, but it is an amazing feat.  The majority of books have been made available from university libraries around the world.  The works span the history of publishing (from the 1500's to the present) and represent many cultures and languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, and Hebrew).  For an example of scholarly analyses of these books, jump to this previous post.

August 9th, Google and major book publishers announced that they had come to an out of court settlement over digital copyright issues.  A second, class-action suit with thousands of authors has yet to go to court and there is some dispute about how or if it will be settled.  The AP noted that, "Even if just one-quarter of the books scanned so far by Google are protected by copyrights, the company would be liable for nearly $4 billion if a court sides with the authors."

Even so, the agreement with publishers may substantially and rapidly increase availability of copyright-protected books available for purchase.  Google has announced that many of these titles will be sold through Google Play and the company recently released a tablet computer set up to download digital content from the eponymous site.

We'll keep you posted!

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