“Google’s mission is to provide access to all the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. It turns out that not all the world’s information is already on the Internet, so….” Such conservative goal setting has now led the world’s busiest search engine to a new set of content—books in print. Publishers cooperating with Google provide descriptive material on a set of books to create a database hosted on Google. At present, results appear within general Web searches, though expert Google searchers can restrict searching to only Google Print records. Three online book sellers—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million—have quick linking set up between title results and their own inventories. Content only includes excerpts from books, e.g., synopses, introductions, author biographic notes, or other “dust jacket” material. At present, the program reportedly covers some 6,000 titles, but Google representatives expect it to grow rapidly.
Currently the Google Print service is open to qualified publishers, authors, and agents, though conversations with Google staff clearly indicated the focus lay on deals with publishers rather than any other players. Current participants include Dell, Knopf, Random House, etc. The company will not disclose all the names of publishers involved. Google encourages parties interested in joining the program to complete a contact form, which stipulates that applicants must hold the rights for a substantial amount of the content under consideration.