Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Could books be the chink in mighty Google's armor?

Critics of online books fire back

Google has done something uncharacteristic - stumbled. The search giant's rush to digitize the world's books, offering that information to its legion of searchers, has attracted competition and possibly tarnished Google's spotless business image.

Many in the U.S. publishing community have accused Google of breaching copyright rules through a plan to put university libraries online. American publishers of academic journals and scholarly books claim the project has financially troubling consequences for publishers and authors by undermining sales.

Last week brought about a flurry of book-related announcements. Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN got into the act quickly. Amazon, too, has shown its need to be a key player in the rush to establish online libraries. In the name of competition, and in a concerted effort to undercut Google's project, these companies took a different tack and appear to have some muscle behind their efforts.

As a result of the backlash, Google took a self-imposed break from scanning--a process that it resumed last week with out-of-copyright books. The argument still seems headed to the courtroom. Details from Forbes and BBC News.

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