"Google Books" Arrives in Israel

(A7) Google Israel has announced the arrival in Israel of the Google Books service: an online library, which allows full reading of books and periodicals in Hebrew.

Israeli publishing house Keter has already signed a cooperation agreement with Google. The search giant's goal is to sign agreements with many Israeli publishers and enrich its online library. Access to full books is limited in cases where there are copyright issues, and in most cases, downloading books is not possible. Books in the public domain, however, will be available to be downloaded as PDF files.

Google Books in Israel includes not just textual novels, but also graphical picture books. Ami Rubinger's popular children's book Big Cat, Small Cat (Keter) was in full color display, as were several others of Rubinger's works. The interface enables the user to navigate between pages, buy the book online, and to post a review of the book.

Google Books was launched in 2004, when the company began scanning millions of books around the world to the Internet. Since then, Google Books has become a major digital repository of books covering an extensive array of topics.

The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild expressed anger at Google Books, claiming that it is a violation of copyright. $125 million paid by Google to these bodies brought relative peace, but the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet given its final word on the issue.

Several authors have taken issue with Google Books and the publishing world's acceptance of it. Highly-acclaimed science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin quit the Authors Guild over its settlement with Google Books, saying that it was equivalent to dealing "with the devil" and it was selling authors "down the river."

"There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright," Le Guin wrote, "and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle."

Others have praised Google Books. European Union Media Commissioner Vivane Reding said that the "digitization of cultural products" is a "Herculean task" that would require cooperation from the public and private sectors. "Google Books is a commercial project developed by an important player," Reding wrote to InternetNews.com. "It is good to see that new business models are evolving which could allow bringing more content to an increasing number of consumers."

The Israeli user can already enter search words into Google's search engine to find books that have been digitally uploaded. Click here to visit Google Books in Israel.

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