Google Creates Searchable Book Library

Google announced it is adding the text of books to its searchable database, furthering its bold mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Analysts say that other search engines will follow suit, but they don’t expect online book-buying to change much in the short term.

“This newest release is something that consumers view as a ‘neat’ application, but the mass market won’t change their purchasing habits as a result of it,” Su Li Walker, Yankee Group associate analyst for consumer technologies and services, told TechNewsWorld. “It brings value to the consumer as an extension of the Google service.”


The book content will be available through a regular Google search, and viewers will be able to read up to 20 percent of the book. Links to Amazon and other booksellers will appear with the search results, but Google will not receive a commission if books are purchased from those links.

To encourage publishers to participate, it will share a portion of its ad revenue from the searches with publishers. More than a dozen have already submitted books, including Penguin, Wiley, Hyperion, Pearson, Taylor & Francis, Cambridge, Chicago, Oxford, Princeton and Scholastic.

Google is starting out with English language books only, but it plans to diversify.

Amazon already has book-searching technology and last month launched A9.com, a subsidiary that adds personalization features to search results. Whether Google’s new service will drive a wedge between the two companies remains to be seen.

Library Still Small

“Google has the current strong brand image for being a powerful search engine. If consumers are looking for something, they Google it. Amazon on the other hand, has that obviously strong online shopping advantage. They are known to consumers as an online book retailer and for the time being will continue to retain their stronghold,” according to the Yankee Group’s Walker.

Google Print is still being tested, and the company says that relatively few books will come up on searches today. That number is expected to increase as the company scans and indexes more books. Last year Google began adding the information from book flaps to its searchable data.

Follow the Leader

To prevent searchers from viewing or downloading whole books, the printing and image copying functions on Google Print content pages are disabled. The company will also keep track of page views, to enforce the 20 percent limit, but said that data will not be tied to personal information.

It is likely that other search engines will follow Google’s lead into searchable books.

“The search engine market is one of fast followers,” Walker said. “This is another case where search engines will play catch-up with each other so that they are offering a fuller value to the consumer.”

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