Some Publishers Warm to Google Book Search

When Google first announced its intention to scan books from around the world and post them online, the project was “portrayed in the press as a kind of rapacious monster,” says Jim Zarroli of NPR’s All Things Considered. But now that Google has digitized more than 1 million volumes, some pundits and publishers are changing their tunes.

Publishing houses initially viewed Google’s Book Search, as the project is called, as a serious threat to their economic well-being. Many publishers, it should be said, stick by that assessment. But others have come to appreciate Google’s method for dealing with books under copyright: The search engine typically displays small sections of those books alongside links to sites where the complete texts can be purchased.

This has been so effective, says a representative of Oxford University Press, that “321,000 times in the last two years, people have clicked on an Oxford book saying ‘I want to buy this.’ We spent nothing to do that. That’s why we’re a big fan of this program.” —Brock Read

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