Microsoft And Google Battle For Publishers’ Hearts At BookExpo

Microsoft and Google unveiled more details about their respective digital library plans at this week’s BookExpo America in New York. Both sought to couch their individual projects in the friendliest terms to publishers. Microsoft is building up its seven-month-old Live Books Search tool as it seeks to offer a direct challenge to Google’s books-scanning initiative, Reuters reported. After having criticized Google a few months ago for its “cavalier” approach to copyright protection, Microsoft touted its deals with a dozen major publishers to digitize their works. The agreements cover books from Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill, Cambridge University Press, among others. Microsoft has denounced Google for scanning books without first obtaining publishers’ permission.

For its part, Google is trying to assuage publishers’ concerns somewhat. At its BookExpo session on Friday, Google is expected to release details of a new marketing program that will allow publishers to put a co-branded Google Book Search tool on their websites, The Book Standard reported (via The tool is free if a publisher is part of the partner program. Only 20 percent of a particular book will be searchable at one time. Users are prevented from saving, copying or printing the work as well. The page will still include a “Buy This Book” list of links, but if the publisher sells books online, it will only link to the publisher’s page. Microsoft’s system will also have links allowing readers to buy books from online retailers or the publisher.

ITWorld: Under the terms of Microsoft’s deals, publishers control how much of their books Microsoft can use. As for Google’s three-year-old digital book project, the company initially sought permission from copyright owners before scanning their books, though it eventually began scanning copyrighted books without permission. Google has argued that its activity is protected by the fair use doctrine, since it only displays snippets of text from copyrighted works.