Google Book Search Makes Debut, Offers Printable Downloads
After nearly two years of debate and speculation, the world’s top search engine site has launched its much-talked about and highly controversial book search.
Google finally rolled out its Book Search on August 30 despite the protests of many in the book industry, who have raised issue with the search’s display of portions of copyright-protected works without prior approval since the concept was introduced in October 2004.
The Mountain View,Calif-based company contends the search constitutes fair use and offers publishers the opportunity to request how and if their content will be used.
According to Google, the company does “not enable downloading of any books under copyright. Unless we have the publisher’s permission to show more, we display only basic bibliographic information, and, in many cases, small snippets of text – at most, a few lines of text surrounding a search term.”
As part of the newly launched search, full texts of classic works in the public domain however are available for free PDF download. Those works can then be printed out by users.
Google Book Search is part of Google’s Books Library Project, an effort which began in November 2005 to make all the books in the world searchable online. The company has partnered with Harvard, New York Public Library, Oxford, Stanford, University of Michigan and most recently University of California in its digitizing goals.
“Since people can search the full text of these books, they can find previously buried information about historical events or people, places of interest and matters cultural or scientific,” Sidney Verba, Director of the Harvard University Library said as the book search launched. “What has been tucked away in large research library collections and available only to a few, can now be discovered and read by people everywhere.”
In a recent poll conducted by Book Business magazine, 58 percent of the respondents said they believed the book search tools offered by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft would have a positive impact on the industry.