July 24, 2009

Google Working To Defuse Google Books Concerns [8:08 am]

An article on a recent panel discussion at the BPL: Google Books causes concern among librarians, authors (pdf)

Google’s growing digital book project is making some in the publishing world nervous - a fact the search giant is trying to change. Google Books, which includes the largest team of engineers working out of Google’s Cambridge office, has been a force ever since it started an aggressive book scanning project with some of the world’s largest libraries in 2004. But now that Google has become a publishing powerhouse - with more than 10 million books scanned so far, of which 1.5 million are currently available online free of charge - it has made some librarians and authors uneasy.

“Google is creating a mega bookstore the likes of which we have never seen,’’ said the panel organizer Maura Marx, executive director of Open Knowledge Commons, a Boston nonprofit organization. “People are very uncomfortable with the idea that one corporation has so much power over such a large collection of knowledge.’’

A growing concern, which was raised during the library panel, is that Google will end up with monopolistic control of access to millions of scanned digital books. This concern was heightened when Google negotiated a settlement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, groups that represent authors and publishers, after they sued Google to stop the search company from digitizing books.

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