29 October 2008 | Team Tamar

Google makes iTunes-like deal with US book industry

As a student and a voracious book reader, it may be surprising that I haven’t really used Google’s book search option more often. I guess it’s because it’s slow, limited, annoying to use and only gives you bits of the book.

This might all change soon though, as Google announced a new breakthrough deal between Google and the US book industry. Apparently, once this deal is approved by a federal court, Google will be able to offer access to a library of millions of titles.

According to www.guardian.co.uk the agreement mirrors the way that Apple’s iTunes music store helped revolutionise the record industry when iTunes was launched in 2003. The idea is that, after searching for books via Google, users will be offered free samples of chosen titles, with the option to buy more. Authors will, eventually, also get a cut of this fee.

Simon & Schuster UK’s chief executive, Ian Chapman, says "It’s a significant agreement, but also has substance for the longer term – it’s ground-breaking." The deal brings to an end the three year lawsuit by authors and publishers against Google Book Search after it began scanning US books still in copyright. As part of the agreement Google will compensate them at a minimum of £37 ($60) per work, costing it up to $90m of the $125m deal.

Although the scheme will start in the US, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, explained that they are working with rights holders, governments and organisations in other countries, so we may see this incorporating more British books (we all know that many American writers are rubbish) and hopefully some of the best South African books too.

Team Tamar