One of the country’s biggest publishers said it intends to produce digital copies of its books and then make them available to search services offered by such companies as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft and Amazon.com, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move by HarperCollins to digitize its active backlist of an estimated 20,000 titles and as many as 3,500 new books each year is an effort to retain control of books it has purchased, edited and published.
HarperCollins’ announcement comes at a time when technology companies and the publishing industry are wrestling over rights for books online. Google recently made clear its intention of digitizing all published books and making them available via its search engine. Google believes “fair use” provisions of the law give it the right to digitize and index books protected under copyright, but a number of big publishers have filed suits against Google in U.S. District Court in New York over this issue.
Instead of sending copies of its books to various Internet companies for digitizing, as it does now, HarperCollins will create a digital file of books in its own digital warehouse. Search companies such as Google will then be allowed to create an index of each book’s content so that when consumers do a search, they’ll be pointed to a page view. However, that view will be hosted by a server in the HarperCollins digital warehouse.