Google Book Search is a tool from Google that searches the full text of books that Google scans, OCRs, and stores in its digital database. The service was formerly known as Google Print when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. When relevant to a user's keyword search, up to three results from the Google Book Search index are displayed above search results in the Google Web Search service (google.com). A user may also search just for books at the dedicated Google Book Search service. Clicking a result from Google Book Search opens an interface in which the user may view pages from the book as well as content-related advertisements and links to the publisher's website and booksellers. Through a variety of access limitations and security measures, some based on user-tracking, Google limits the number of viewable pages and attempts to prevent page printing and text copying of material under copyright.
The Google Book Search service remains in a beta stage but the underlying database continues to grow. Google Book Search allows public-domain works and other out-of-copyright material to be downloaded in PDF format. For users outside the United States, though, Google must be sure that the work in question is indeed out of copyright under local laws. According to a member of the Google Book Search Support Team, "Since whether a book is in the public domain can often be a tricky legal question, we err on the side of caution and display at most a few snippets until we have determined that the book has entered the public domain.
Many of the books are scanned using the Elphel 323 camera at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour. The rapidity of the scanning precludes checking the pages. Hence, some pages are not scanned or are scanned in such a fashion as to make them unreadable.
Google has not revealed how many books they have already scanned. Google did say that it is scanning more than 3,000 books per day, a rate that translates into more than 1 million annually. The entire project may exceed US$ 100 million.. As of March 2007, The New York Times reported that Google has already digitized one million volumes at an estimated cost of US$5 million
Microsoft started a similar project, Live Search Books, in late 2006 which ran until May 2008, when the project was abandoned.
- December 2004—Google signaled an extension to its Google Print initiative known as the Google Print Library Project. Google announced partnerships with several high-profile university and public libraries, including the University of Michigan, Harvard (Harvard University Library), Stanford (Green Library), Oxford (Bodleian Library), and the New York Public Library. According to press releases and university librarians, Google plans to digitize and make available through its Google Book Search service approximately 15 million volumes within a decade. The announcement soon triggered controversy, as publisher and author associations challenged Google's plans to digitize, not just books in the public domain, but also titles still under copyright.
- November 2005—Google changed the name of this service from Google Print to Google Book Search. Its program enabling publishers and authors to include their books in the service was renamed "Google Books Partner Program" (see Google Library Partners) and the partnership with libraries became Google Books Library Project.
- August 2006—The University of California System announced that it would join the Book Search digitization project. This includes a portion of the 34 million volumes within the approximately 100 libraries managed by the System.
- September 2006-The Complutense University of Madrid becomes the first Spanish-language library to join the Google Books Library Project.
- October 2006—The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that it would join the Book Search digitization project along with the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Combined, the libraries have 7.2 million holdings.
- November 2006-The University of Virginia joins the project. Its libraries contain more than five million volumes and more than 17 million manuscripts, rare books and archives.
- January 2007—The University of Texas at Austin announced that it would join the Book Search digitization project. At least one million volumes will be digitized from the University's 13 library locations.
- March 2007—The Bavarian State Library announced a partnership with Google to scan more than a million public domain and out-of-print works in German as well as English, French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.
- May 2007—A book digitizing project partnership was announced jointly by Google and the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne.
- May 2007—The Boekentoren Library of Ghent University will participate with Google in digitizing and making digitized versions of 19th century books in the French and Dutch languages available online.
- June 2007—The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) announced that its twelve member libraries would participate in scanning 10 million books over the course of the next six years.
- July 2007—Keio University became Google's first library partner in Japan with the announcement that they would digitize at least 120,000 public domain books.
- August 2007—Google announced that it would digitize up to 500,000 both copyrighted and public domain items from Cornell University Library. Google will also provide a digital copy of all works scanned to be incorporated into the university’s own library system.
- September 2007—Google added a feature that allows users to share snippets of books that are in the public domain. The snippets may appear exactly as they do in the scan of the book or as plain text.
- September 2007—Google debuts a new feature called "My Library" which allows users to create personal customized libraries, selections of books that they can label, review, rate, or full-text search.
- December 2007—Columbia University was added as a partner in digitizing public domain works.
Google Books Library Project participants
The number of participating institutions has grown since the inception of the Google Books Library Project
; The University of Mysore has been mentioned in many media reports as being a library partner. They are not, however, listed as a partner by Google.
Other institutional partners have joined the Project since the partnership was first announced.
- Bavarian State Library, Bavaria + Google, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek + Google (in German)
- Columbia University, Columbia University Library System, Columbia + Google
- Committee on Institutional Cooperation, CIC + Google
- Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid + Google, Complutense Universidad + Google (in Spanish)
- Cornell University, Cornell University Library, Cornell + Google
- Ghent University, Ghent University Library/Boekentoren, Ghent/Gent + Google
- Keio University, Keio Media Centers (Libraries), Keio + Google (in English), Keio + Google (in Japanese)
- National Library of Catalonia (Biblioteca de Catalunya). Biblioteca de Catalunya (BNC) + Google (in Catalan)
- Princeton University, Princeton University Library, Princeton + Google
- University of California, California Digital Library, California + Google
- University of Lausanne, Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne/ Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire/BCU + Google (in French)
- University of Mysore, Mysore University Library, Mysore + Google
- University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas Libraries, Texas + Google
- University of Virginia, University of Virginia Library, Virginia + Google
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin Digital Collection, Wisconsin + Google
Opposition and perceived shortcomings
Google Book Search remains controversial.
While librarians hail the initiative for its potential to offer unprecedented access to what may become the largest online corpus of human knowledge, the publishing industry and writers' groups have criticized the project's inclusion of snippets of copyrighted works as infringement. The Authors Guild of America and Association of American Publishers have separately sued Google, citing "massive copyright infringement." Google claims its project represents a fair use, and is the digital age equivalent of a card catalog with every word in the publication indexed.
Some European politicians and intellectuals have criticized Google's effort on "language-imperialism" grounds, arguing that because the vast majority of books proposed to be scanned are in English, it will result in disproportionate representation of natural languages in the digital world. German, Russian, and French, for instance, are popular languages in scholarship; the disproportionate online emphasis on English could shape access to historical scholarship, and, ultimately, the growth and direction of future scholarship. Among these critics is Jean-Noël Jeanneney, the president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France
In June 2006, a French publisher announced its intention to sue Google France. In 2006 a previously-filed German lawsuit was withdrawn.
In March 2007, Thomas Rubin, associate general counsel for copyright, trademark, and trade secrets at Microsoft, accused Google of violating copyright law with their book search service. Rubin specifically criticized Google's policy of freely copying any work until notified by the copyright holder to stop.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia has published the opinion, that the project poses a danger for the doctrine of fair use, because the fair use claims are arguably so excessive that it may cause judicial limitation of that right.
Google licensing of public domain works is also an area of concern , Google apparently is claiming a restrictive 'No-Commercial use' term in respect of the PDF electronic versions it provides, as well as using digital watermarking techniques with them. Some published works that are in the public domain, such as all works created by the U.S. Federal government, are still treated like other works under copyright, and therefore locked after 1922.
While Google Book Search has digitized large numbers of journal back issues, its scans do not include the metadata required for identifying specific articles in specific issues. This has led the makers of Google Scholar to start their own program to digitize and host older journal articles (in agreement with their publishers).