Google employees will soon be visiting the national libraries of both Rome and Florence, but not just to enjoy the literature on display. Their job will be to scan up to one million individual titles as per the agreement reached between Google and the Italian culture ministry this week. The cost of the enormous effort will be fully covered by the internet giant, and the books, once scanned, will appear on the Google Books website, available for download via broadband internet onto eBook readers.
The eBook market is developing quickly, with both publishing and technology development companies fighting for their share in the emerging market. Google is aiming to become the internet’s largest literature holder, intending to become the one website that individuals will go to when wanting to find something to read. Though Amazon, with their Kindle device and application available for download via mobile internet, already hold a large share in the marketplace this latest news will undoubtedly be unsettling.
This particular agreement between Italy and Google is only in regard to books that are now no longer within their copyright agreements. This will include titles published before the year of 1868, and includes famous works such as writings from Galileo Galilei, and astronomer Johannes Kepler. The books will be available in digital copy form on the websites of the libraries, as well as on Google’s website.
Although a contract of this size has yet to be seen, Google has already agreed to scan many other works, including titles from universities and libraries in England, New York, France and other countries.
The scanning of the books will be conducted from a Google-established scanning centre within Italy that will employ approximately 100 people. Although the estimated cost was somewhere within the region of 100 million Euros, Google insists that they expect to spend far below this figure.
Since the start of Google’s quest to scan many books no longer under copyright law, they have encountered many legal battles, facing two large copyright infringement cases against one of the largest publishing houses in France, and the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers in the United States. Others opposed to the move simply claim that ownership of so many publications gives Google too many rights when it comes to pieces of work with unknown authorship.
The Italians though seem happy with the new agreement reached with the online company. “It’s a partnership that opens a new road for Italian culture,” said Sandro Bondi, the Culture Minister for Italy. He also insisted that the new agreement by no means forbids the country from granting access to other companies in the future.
Other supporters include users of mobile devices who will now have access to a range of different titles, available for download straight through theirconnections.