Monday, June 29, 2015

Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print) is a service from Google Inc. that searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition, and stored in its digital database. Books are provided either by publishers and authors, through the Google Books Partner Program, or by Google's library partners, through the Library Project. Additionally, Google has partnered with a number of magazine publishers to digitize their archives.

The service was formerly known as 'Google Print' when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. The Google Books Library Project, which scans works in the collections library partners and adds them to the digital inventory, was announced in December 2004.

The Google Books initiative has been hailed for its potential to offer unprecedented access to what may become the largest online body of human knowledge and promoting the democratization of knowledge. But it has also been criticized for potential copyright violations, and lack of editing to correct the thousands of errors introduced into the scanned texts by the OCR process.

As of April 2013, the number of scanned book titles was over 30 million, but the scanning process has slowed down in USA academic libraries. Google estimated in 2010 that there were about 130 million distinct titles in the world, and stated that it intended to scan all of them by the end of the decade.


Google Books

Results from Google Books show up in both the mainstream Google Search as well as in the dedicated Google Books search website (

In response to search queries, Google Books allows users to view pages from books in which the search terms appear, if the book is out of copyright or if the copyright owner has given permission; or view snippets of text around the queried search terms, depending upon the access level for the book. All instances of the search terms in the book text appear with a yellow highlight.

The four access levels used on Google Books are:

  • Full view: Books in the public domain are available for "full view" and can be downloaded for free. In-print books acquired through the Partner Program are also available for full view if the publisher has given permission, although this is rare.
  • Preview: For in-print books where permission has been granted, the number of viewable pages is limited to a "preview" set by a variety of access restrictions and security measures, some based on user-tracking. Usually, the publisher can set the percentage of the book available for preview. Users are restricted from copying, downloading or printing book previews. A watermark reading "Copyrighted material" appears at the bottom of pages. All books acquired through the Partner Program are available for preview.
  • Snippet view: A 'snippet view' â€" two to three lines of text surrounding the queried search term â€" is displayed in cases where Google does not have permission of the copyright owner to display a preview. This could be because Google cannot identify the owner or the owner declined permission. If a search term appears many times in a book, Google displays no more than three snippets, thus preventing the user from viewing too much of the book. Also, Google does not display any snippets for certain reference books, such as dictionaries, where the display of even snippets can harm the market for the work. Google maintains that no permission is required under copyright law to display the snippet view.
  • No preview: Google also displays search results for books that have not been digitized. As these books have not been scanned, their text is not searchable and only the metadata information such as the title, author, publisher, number of pages, ISBN, subject and copyright information, and in some cases, a table of contents and book summary is available. In effect, this is similar to an online library card catalog.

In response to criticism from groups such as the American Association of Publishers and the Authors Guild, Google announced an opt-out policy in August 2005, through which copyright owners could provide a list of titles that it did not want scanned, and Google would respect the request. Google also stated that it would not scan any in-copyright books between August and 1 November 2005, to provide the owners with the opportunity to decide which books to exclude from the Project. Thus, Google provides a copyright owner with three choices with respect to any work:

  1. It can participate in the Partner Program to make a book available for preview or full view, in which case it would share revenue derived from the display of pages from the work in response to user queries.
  2. It can let Google scan the book under the Library Project and display snippets in response to user queries.
  3. It can opt out of the Library Project, in which case Google will not scan the book. If the book has already been scanned, Google will reset its access level as 'No preview'.

Each book on Google Books has an associated "About this book" page which displays useful analytical information regarding the book such as a word map of the most used words and phrases, a selection of pages, list of related books, list of other books and scholarly articles that cite the book, and tables of content. This information is collated through automated methods, and sometimes data from third-party sources is used. This information provides an insight into the book, particularly useful when only a snippet view is available. The list of related books can often contain irrelevant entries. In some cases, a book summary and information about the author is also displayed. The page also displays bibliographic information, which can be exported as citations in BibTeX, EndNote and RefMan formats. Registered users logged in with their Google accounts can post reviews for books on this page. Google Books also displays reviews from Goodreads alongside these reviews.

Most scanned works are no longer in print or commercially available. For those which are, the site provides links to the website of the publisher and booksellers.


Google Books can retrieve scanned books from URLs based on the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), Library of Congress Control Numbers (LCCN) and Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) record numbers. For example, the 'About this book' page of a book with the ISBN 0521349931 can be linked as

For some books, Google also provides the ability to link directly to the front cover, title page, copyright page, table of contents, index, and back cover of a book, by using an appropriate parameter. For example, the front cover of a book with the OCLC number 17546826 can be linked as

Page numbering

For many books, Google Books displays the original page numbers, resulting in many benefits such as enabling writers to prepare citations with page numbers without needing to have a print copy of the book. However, Tim Parks, writing in The New York Review Blogs, noted that Google had stopped providing page numbers for many recent publications, "presumably in alliance with the publishers, in order to force those of us who need to prepare footnotes to buy paper editions."

Scanning of books

Many of the books are scanned using the Elphel 323 camera at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour. A patent awarded to Google in 2009 revealed that Google had come up with an innovative system for scanning books that uses two cameras and infrared light to automatically correct for the curvature of pages in a book. By constructing a 3D model of each page and then "de-warping" it, Google is able to present flat-looking pages without having to really make the pages flat, which requires the use of destructive methods such as unbinding or glass plates to individually flatten each page, which is inefficient for large scale scanning.


Google allows users to report errors in books at the website

Errors in content

The scanning process is subject to errors. For example, some pages may be unreadable, upside down, or in the wrong order. Scholars have even reported crumpled pages, obscuring thumbs and fingers, and smeared or blurry images. On this issue, a declaration from Google at the end of scanned books says:

Errors in metadata

Scholars have frequently reported rampant errors in the metadata information on Google Books â€" including misattributed authors and erroneous dates of publication. Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist researching on the changes in word usage over time noticed that a search for books published before 1950 and containing the word "internet" turned up an unlikely 527 results. Woody Allen is mentioned in 325 books ostensibly published before he was born. Google responded to Nunberg by blaming the bulk of errors on the outside contractors.


December 2004: Google signaled an extension to its Google Print initiative known as the Google Print Library Project. Google announced partnerships with several high-profile university and public libraries, including the University of Michigan, Harvard (Harvard University Library), Stanford (Green Library), Oxford (Bodleian Library), and the New York Public Library. According to press releases and university librarians, Google planned to digitize and make available through its Google Books service approximately 15 million volumes within a decade. The announcement soon triggered controversy, as publisher and author associations challenged Google's plans to digitize, not just books in the public domain, but also titles still under copyright.

Septemberâ€"October 2005: Two lawsuits against Google charge that the company has not respected copyrights and has failed to properly compensate authors and publishers. One is a class action suit on behalf of authors (Authors Guild v. Google, Sept. 20 2005) and the other is a civil lawsuit brought by five large publishers and the Association of American Publishers. (McGraw Hill v. Google, Oct. 19 2005)

November 2005: Google changed the name of this service from Google Print to Google Book Search. Its program enabling publishers and authors to include their books in the service was renamed "Google Books Partner Program" and the partnership with libraries became Google Books Library Project.

August 2006: The University of California System announced that it would join the Books digitization project. This includes a portion of the 34 million volumes within the approximately 100 libraries managed by the System.

September 2006: The Complutense University of Madrid becomes the first Spanish-language library to join the Google Books Library Project.

October 2006: The University of Wisconsinâ€"Madison announced that it would join the Book Search digitization project along with the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Combined, the libraries have 7.2 million holdings.

November 2006: The University of Virginia joined the project. Its libraries contain more than five million volumes and more than 17 million manuscripts, rare books and archives.

January 2007: The University of Texas at Austin announced that it would join the Book Search digitization project. At least one million volumes will be digitized from the University's 13 library locations.

March 2007: The Bavarian State Library announced a partnership with Google to scan more than a million public domain and out-of-print works in German as well as English, French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.

May 2007: A book digitizing project partnership was announced jointly by Google and the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne.

May 2007: The Boekentoren Library of Ghent University will participate with Google in digitizing and making digitized versions of 19th century books in the French and Dutch languages available online.

June 2007: The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) announced that its twelve member libraries would participate in scanning 10 million books over the course of the next six years.

July 2007: Keio University became Google's first library partner in Japan with the announcement that they would digitize at least 120,000 public domain books.

August 2007: Google announced that it would digitize up to 500,000 both copyrighted and public domain items from Cornell University Library. Google will also provide a digital copy of all works scanned to be incorporated into the university's own library system.

September 2007: Google added a feature that allows users to share snippets of books that are in the public domain. The snippets may appear exactly as they do in the scan of the book or as plain text.

September 2007: Google debuted a new feature called "My Library" which allows users to create personal customized libraries, selections of books that they can label, review, rate, or full-text search.

December 2007: Columbia University was added as a partner in digitizing public domain works.

May 2008: Microsoft tapered off and planned to end its scanning project which reached 750,000 books and 80 million journal articles.

October 2008: A settlement was reached between the publishing industry and Google after two years of negotiation. Google agreed to compensate authors and publishers in exchange for the right to make millions of books available to the public.

November 2008: Google reached the 7 million book mark for items scanned by Google and by their publishing partners. 1 million are in full preview mode and 1 million are fully viewable and downloadable public domain works. About five million are currently out of print.

December 2008: Google announced the inclusion of magazines in Google Books. Titles include New York Magazine, Ebony, Popular Mechanics, and others.

February 2009: Google launched a mobile version of Google Book Search allowing iPhone and Android phone users to read over 1.5 million public domain works in the US (and over 500,000 outside the US) using a mobile browser. Instead of the page images, the plain text of the book is displayed.

May 2009: At the annual BookExpo convention in New York, Google signaled its intent to introduce a program that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google.

In December 2009 a French court shut down the scanning of copyrighted books published in France saying it violated copyright laws. It was the first major legal loss for the scanning project.

April 2010: Visual artists were not included in the previous lawsuit and settlement, and are the plaintiff groups in another lawsuit, and say they intend to bring more than just Google Books under scrutiny. "The new class action," reads the statement, "goes beyond Google’s Library Project, and includes Google’s other systematic and pervasive infringements of the rights of photographers, illustrators and other visual artists."

May 2010: It is reported that Google will launch a digital book store termed as Google Editions. It will compete with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and other electronic book retailers with its very own e-book store. Unlike others, Google Editions will be completely online and will not require a specific device (such as kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.).

June 2010: Google passes 12 million books scanned.

August 2010: It was announced that Google intends to scan all known existing 129,864,880 books by the end of the decade, accounting to over 4 billion digital pages and 2 trillion words in total.

December 2010: Google eBooks (Google Editions) is launched in the US.

March 2011: A federal judge rejects the settlement reached between the publishing industry and Google.

March 2012: Google passed 20 million books scanned.

March 2012: Google reached a settlement with publishers.

January 2013: Google and the World Brain documentary is shown in the Sundance Film Festival.

April 2013: Google's database encompasses more than 30 million scanned books.

November 2013: Ruling in Authors Guild v. Google, US District Judge Denny Chin sides with Google, citing fair use. The authors said they would appeal.

Google Books Partner Program

Google Books

The Partner Program is an online-book marketing program designed to help publishers and authors promote their books. Publishers and authors submit either a digital copy of their book in EPUB or PDF format, or a print copy to Google, which are made available on Google Books for preview. The publisher can control the percentage of the book available for preview, with the minimum being 20%. They can also choose to make the book fully viewable, and even allow users to download a PDF copy.

Books can also be made available for sale on Google Play.

Google Books Library Project

In-copyright books scanned through the Library Project are made available on Google Books for snippet view. Regarding the quality of scans, Google acknowledges that they are "not always of sufficiently high quality" to be offered for sale on Google Play. Also, because of supposed technical constraints, Google does not replace scans with higher quality versions that may be provided by the publishers.

Copyright owners can claim the rights for a scanned book and make it available for preview or full view (by 'transferring' it to their Partner Program account), or request Google to prevent the book text from being searched.

The number of institutions participating in the Library Project has grown since its inception. The University of Mysore has been mentioned in many media reports as being a library partner, although it is not listed as a partner by Google.

Initial partners

  • Harvard University, Harvard University Library
  • University of Michigan, University of Michigan Library
  • New York Public Library
  • University of Oxford, Bodleian Library
  • Stanford University, Stanford University Libraries (SULAIR)

Additional partners

Other institutional partners have joined the Project since the partnership was first announced.

  • Austrian National Library
  • Bavarian State Library
  • Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon
  • Columbia University, Columbia University Library System
  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation
  • Complutense University of Madrid
  • Cornell University, Cornell University Library
  • Ghent University, Ghent University Library/Boekentoren
  • Keio University, Keio Media Centers (Libraries)
  • National Library of Catalonia
  • Princeton University, Princeton University Library
  • University of California, California Digital Library
  • University of Lausanne
  • University of Mysore, Mysore University Library
  • University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas Libraries
  • University of Virginia, University of Virginia Library
  • University of Wisconsinâ€"Madison, University of Wisconsin Libraries

My Library

Google Books

Google Books allows users to create a personalised collection or a library of books. Users need to sign in using their Google accounts to use this feature. Books in the library are organised using 'bookshelves'. Books can be added to the library using the 'Add to Library' button that appears along with search results and in the 'Overview' page of books. The library can be shared with friends by making bookshelves publicly visible and sharing the secret library URL. Users can also easily import a list of books to the library using the ISBN or ISSN numbers. There are four default bookshelves which cannot be renamed: Favorites, Reading now, To read and Have read.

Additionally, the Google Books library consists of a number of default bookshelves to which books get added automatically. Users cannot add or remove books from these bookshelves. These are:

  • Purchased (shows all purchased books, even if they are deleted from the Google Play library)
  • Reviewed (shows books for which the user has written a review)
  • My Books on Google Play (shows all the books in the user's Google Play library)
  • Recently viewed
  • Browing history
  • Books for you (recommendations based on other books in the library)

Copyright infringement, fair use and related issues

Google Books

The Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers separately sued Google in 2005 for its book project, citing "massive copyright infringement." Google countered that its project represented a fair use and is the digital age equivalent of a card catalog with every word in the publication indexed. The lawsuits were consolidated, and eventually a settlement was proposed. The settlement received significant criticism on a wide variety of grounds, including antitrust, privacy, and inadequacy of the proposed classes of authors and publishers. The settlement was eventually rejected, and the publishers settled with Google soon after. The Authors Guild continued its case, and in 2011 their proposed class was certified. Google appealed that decision, with a number of amici asserting the inadequacy of the class, and the Second Circuit rejected the class certification in July 2013, remanding the case to the District Court for consideration of Google's fair use defense.

Other lawsuits followed the Authors Guild's lead. In 2006 a German lawsuit, previously filed, was withdrawn. In June 2006, Hervé de la Martinière, a French publisher known as La Martinière and Éditions du Seuil, announced its intention to sue Google France. In 2009, the Paris Civil Court awarded €300,000 (approximately US$430,000) in damages and interest and ordered Google to pay €10,000 a day until it removes the publisher's books from its database. The court wrote, "Google violated author copyright laws by fully reproducing and making accessible" books that Seuil owns without its permission and that Google "committed acts of breach of copyright, which are of harm to the publishers". Google said it will appeal. Syndicat National de l'Edition, which joined the lawsuit, said Google has scanned about 100,000 French works under copyright.

In December 2009, Chinese author Mian Mian filed a civil lawsuit for $8,900 against Google for scanning her novel, Acid Lovers. This is the first such lawsuit to be filed against Google in China. Also, in November that year, the China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS) accused Google of scanning 18,000 books by 570 Chinese writers without authorization. Google agreed on Nov 20 to provide a list of Chinese books it had scanned, but the company refused to admit having "infringed" copyright laws.

In March 2007, Thomas Rubin, associate general counsel for copyright, trademark, and trade secrets at Microsoft, accused Google of violating copyright law with their book search service. Rubin specifically criticized Google's policy of freely copying any work until notified by the copyright holder to stop.

Google licensing of public domain works is also an area of concern due to using of digital watermarking techniques with the books. Some published works that are in the public domain, such as all works created by the U.S. Federal government, are still treated like other works under copyright, and therefore locked after 1922.

Language issues

Some European politicians and intellectuals have criticized Google's effort on linguistic imperialism grounds. They argue that because the vast majority of books proposed to be scanned are in English, it will result in disproportionate representation of natural languages in the digital world. German, Russian, French, and Spanish, for instance, are popular languages in scholarship. The disproportionate online emphasis on English, however, could shape access to historical scholarship, and, ultimately, the growth and direction of future scholarship. Among these critics is Jean-Noël Jeanneney, the former president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Google Books versus Google Scholar

Google Books

While Google Books has digitized large numbers of journal back issues, its scans do not include the metadata required for identifying specific articles in specific issues. This has led the makers of Google Scholar to start their own program to digitize and host older journal articles (in agreement with their publishers).

Similar projects

Google Books
  • Internet Archive is a non-profit which digitizes over 1000 books a day, as well as mirrors books from Google Books and other sources. As of May 2011, it hosted over 2.8 million public domain books, greater than the approximate 1 million public domain books at Google Books. Open Library, a sister project of Internet Archive, lends 80,000 scanned and purchased commercial ebooks to the visitors of 150 libraries.
  • HathiTrust maintains HathiTrust Digital Library since 13 October 2008, which preserves and provides access to material scanned by Google, some of the Internet Archive books, and some scanned locally by partner institutions. As of May 2010, it includes about 6 million volumes, over 1 million of which are public domain (at least in the US).
  • Microsoft funded the scanning of 300,000 books to create Live Search Books in late 2006. It ran until May 2008, when the project was abandoned and the books were made freely available on the Internet Archive.
  • Europeana links to roughly 10 million digital objects as of 2010, including video, photos, paintings, audio, maps, manuscripts, printed books, and newspapers from the past 2,000 years of European history from over 1,000 archives in the European Union.
  • Gallica from the French National Library links to about 800,000 digitized books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps and drawings, etc. Created in 1997, the digital library continues to expand at a rate of about 5000 new documents per month. Since the end of 2008, most of the new scanned documents are available in image and text formats. Most of these documents are written in French.

See also

  • Google Play
  • Digital library
    • Project Gutenberg
    • Wikisource
  • List of digital library projects
  •,'s book search
  • Book Rights Registry
  • Book scanning
  • Runivers
  • Universal library


  • Template:Google books



External links

  • Google Books homepage
  • Google Books Information Page
  • Google Books Timeline
  • Jeffrey Toobin; Google's Moon Shot
  • â€" an experiment that prints public domain books from Google Books
  • Robert Darnton â€" Google & the Future of Books

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