Google Now Offering Book Downloads

Google on Wednesday began offering full downloads of out-of-copyright books in PDF format, enabling users to read at their own pace or use an ebook device. Currently being offered are a handful of classics and obscure titles in the public domain.

Google Book Search is a project by the search engine to digitize as many books as possible, making it possible to search for specific references instantly. The company has partnered with the University of California, Harvard, the University of Michigan, Oxford, and the New York Public Library.

Google earlier this year also invited publishers to submit their books directly to the project and set prices for access. That effort was intended to cover viewing only in a Web browser, however, while preventing downloads and copying of material.

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Not all has gone smoothly for Google Book Search since its inception in 2005. The service has already been the target of at least two lawsuits, one from the Association of American Publishers, and another from the non-profit Author's Guild. Both are attempting to block Google from copying books, and have accused it of copyright infringement.

Still, Google is optimistic about the program. "Of course, this is just the beginning. As we digitize more of the world's books -- whether rare, common, popular or obscure -- people everywhere will be able to discover them on Google Book Search," said associate product manager Adam Mathes.

Among those books being offered as a PDF download are, Dante's "Inferno," Aesop's "Fables," Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Ferriar's The "Bibliomania." Users can find the downloads by selecting the "Full view" radio button when searching on books.google.com.

"Please note that we do not enable downloading of any book currently under copyright. Unless we have the publisher’s permission to show more, we display only small snippets of text –- at most, two or three sentences surrounding your search term -– to help you determine if you’ve found what you’re looking for," explained Mathes.

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