Monday, November 10, 2008

Google Signs Deal to e-Publish Out-of-Print Books

Google Signs a Deal to e-Publish Out-of-Print Books
The New York Times, November 10, 2008
By Eric Pfanner

PARIS -- Long after other media joined the digital revolution, book publishers clung to the reassuringly low-tech tools of printing press, paper and ink.

But now the world of books is starting to go digital, too.

Last week, American authors and publishers reached an agreement with Google to settle lawsuits over Google’s Book Search program, which scans millions of books and makes their contents available on the Internet. The deal lets Google sell electronic versions of copyrighted works that have gone out of print.

“Almost overnight, not only has the largest publishing deal been struck, but the largest bookshop in the world has been built, even if it is not quite open for business yet,” wrote Neill Denny, editor of The Bookseller, a trade publication based in London, on his blog.

The settlement remains subject to court approval, and the bookshop would operate only in the United States for now. But the agreement is only one of many initiatives under which books are making what may be the biggest technological leap since Gutenberg invented moveable type.

Free electronic versions of some books have been available for years. Project Gutenberg, a volunteer archival effort, makes more than 25,000 books available for download. Feedbooks, a start-up company in Paris, is formatting many of them for use on mobile devices. [...]

The Google settlement largely concerned works that were still under copyright but no longer in print. Digitizing these books could allow publishers to offer readers vast numbers of additional volumes -- the so-called long tail of the Internet.

Read the entire article in The New York Times.

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