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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. The service was formerly known as Google Print when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. Google's Library Project, also now known as Google Book Search, was announced in December 2004.

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 plans 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.

A click on a result from Google Books opens an interface in which the user may view pages from the book, if out of copyright or if the copyright owner has given permission. Books in the public domain are available in "full view" and free for download. 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. For books where permission for a "preview" has been refused, only permission for "snippets" (two to three lines of text) may be permitted, but the full text of the book is searchable on this limited basis. Where the owner of a book cannot be identified, a "snippet" view may be implemented. For other books that have neither a "full view" nor "preview", the text is not searchable at all, and Google Books provides no identification of content beyond the book title. For this reason, Google Books searches are an unreliable indicator of the prevalence of specific usages or terms, because many authoritative works fall into the unsearchable category.

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.

Many of the books are scanned using the Elphel 323 camera at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour. The scanning process is subject to errors. For example, some pages are unreadable, or upside down, or in the wrong order. It happens that some pages of one book appear interleaved with those of another, or an entire book may be attributed to the wrong title altogether.[citation needed] Book information such as authors, publishers, dates and so on, may be incorrect or abbreviated incoherently.[citation needed] Very commonly, the list of chapter headings and/or the book index is only partially presented.

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

(Wikipedia: Google Books)

The University of Michigan’s

Lead Roll in Google Books Project