Sharing Public Domain Books

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Posted by Philippe Colombet, Strategic Partnership Development Manager, Europe

When we launched Google Books, one of our goals was to bring the world's lost literature back to life. Many older books which are out of copyright (so-called public domain works) have been languished in the difficult-to-reach corridors of the world's great libraries. If you are a student at Oxford or Harvard, you might have a chance to find and read them. If you live thousands of miles away or are a scholar at a local community college, it may be near impossible to do so.

The Internet offers a fabulous opportunity to begin to address this inequality. We've been partnering with libraries around the globe, including many institutions in Europe such as the Bavarian State Library or the Bodleian Library at Oxford, to bring these books online so that anyone can discover and read them. In addition, we want people to be able to find these books in places other than just on So we're in constant dialog with several prestigious cultural institutions, such as the Spanish National Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, in order to help as many readers as possible around the world search and read public domain books.

We're not only reaching out to libraries, but also to other technology partners. We believe in an open platform for accessing and reading books, and we're always open to discussing opportunities with technology partners who share our goals of making books more accessible and useful. Just a few weeks ago, Sony announced that over a million public domain we've digitized would be available on the Sony Reader. We've also partnered with Barnes and Noble to allow users in the US to browse and download public domain books from Barnes and Noble's eBookstore for free.

Bringing the world's books online is a tremendous undertaking, and we're happy to be working with more institutions and partners to help achieve this. We're always looking for more ways to expand access to books, and we envision a future where people throughout the world will be able to search and access the world's books anywhere, anytime.

For more information about Google Books, please visit


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