October 15, 2008 / 5:55 PM / 10 years ago

BOOKFAIR-INTERVIEW-Google doubles book-scan publisher partners

By Georgina Prodhan

FRANKFURT, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Google (GOOG.O) has doubled the number of publishers signed up to its once-controversial book-search service, stopping short on Wednesday of updating a year-old figure of “more than a million” books it has scanned.

The Internet giant caused uproar among publishers and some libraries when it launched the project four years ago, with many in the establishment fearing Google planned to gain control of all the world’s books and give them away for free online.

Since then, 20,000 publishers — twice as many as a year ago

-- have done deals to let Google scan the full text of their -- have done deals to let Google scan the full text of their books to let potential buyers to read snippets relating to their Internet searches. here

Google also works with academic and reference libraries to scan out-of-copyright works — and, controversially, some works still in copyright from U.S. libraries — but has added only two library partners over the past year, bringing the total to 29.

“We’re getting publishers get their content to more and more relevant people and, vice versa, we’re getting users in contact with relevant content they probably didn’t know existed,” said Santiago de la Mora, head of book partnerships in Europe.

Speaking in an interview at the Frankfurt Book Fair, de la Mora said he did not want to single out individual publishers who had joined the programme in the last year.

But, when asked, he confirmed that Bertelsmann’s [BERT.UL] Random House, the world’s largest non-factual publisher, had signed up.

Google has been in legal dispute since 2005 with U.S. publishers over its practice of scanning in-copyright works it accesses through its U.S. library partners without explicit permission from copyright holders.

De la Mora was unforthcoming as to the number of books the company has scanned.

“The figure has not been changed. That’s the official number,” he said, referring to last year’s announcement that Google had scanned more than a million books. “It’s more than the figures. Let’s not get bogged down.”

Asked whether the project was getting the necessary resources from Google, de la Mora said, “It’s a very ambitious project, I mean, clearly, it’s an enormous undertaking, so it’s huge, it’s huge. And we’re going as fast as possible. I mean, 100 languages, more than 1 million books, it’s enormous.”

Google, whose projects outside its core search and advertising businesses range from satellites to submarine cables and health services, was eyeing the burgeoning market for electronic reading devices such as Amazon’s (AMZN.O) Kindle but had no plans for specific offerings for such gadgets, he said.

“We’re promoting on line the sale of physical books. That’s the offering. Having said that, we’re always open to the evolutions of the marketplace. It’s just a question of interest but clearly it’s something we’re following,” he said. “But let’s be clear on the record that Google’s not going to launch an ereader or something like that.”

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

((georgina.prodhan@thomsonreuters.com; +4420 7542 7954; Reuters Messaging georgina.prodhan.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BOOKFAIR/GOOGLE

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