Google is doing it again. Google is turning the publishing world upside down with Google Books, currently in beta. Google Books allows the public to download more than a million public domain books in PDF and EPUB formats.
Google has been quietly scanning the world’s books for inclusion into Google Books, which is both a search and a library. Here’s how it works:
- Users like you and me and go to Google Books and use the Book Search, which functions just like a regular Google search.
- If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given Google permission, you’ll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If it’s in the public domain, you’re free to download a PDF copy.
- Books that are still in copyright can sometimes be previewed; you’ll also find links to sites where you can purchase or borrow the book.
- As long as you have a Google account, you can “add” books to your library for later viewing and downloading.
For example, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is in the public domain. I can download a full copy of Huck Finn from Google Books.
As you can imagine, Google books is controversial and has angered many publishers and authors. In fact, a lawsuit was filed against Google by the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers. The lawsuit has been settled and authors can now opt-in or out of Google Books. Note to authors and publishers: please contact Google and let them know if you want to opt in or out of the search.
For me, I’m pretty excited at the idea of being able to search the world’s books; I love being able to download some of my favorite books; and I appreciate having access to out of print books. How about you? Do you think Google Books is a good idea? And are you using it to search and download books?