There are two kinds of Google worriers: those who wring their hands over the search company's dominance, and those who do something about it. A conglomerate of German book publishers showed themselves to be in the second group this week when they launched their own rival to Google Book Search.
The new program, called Libreka, has attracted plenty of German publishers who like its "opt-in" approach. Publishers who don't want to make snippets or sample pages of their works available have that option, unlike with Google, which shows tiny snippets of text even from copyrighted works. Those who want to offer sample pages and make their books searchable can do that too.
So far, the site only covers a few thousand titles, but if you've been jonesing to search inside Das Stammhaus der Herren von Hallwyl: Die archäologischen Untersuchungen auf dem Wasserschloss Hallwyl 1995-2000, you now can. Wünderbar!
The launch of Libreka came during the Frankfurt Book Fair this last week, the book world's biggest binge of the year. Google was also a topic of interest to publishers there. Deutsche Welle notes that Random House boss Peter Olson, whose company hasn't been keen on Google's project (Random House is a party to the US lawsuit against Google Book Search on copyright grounds), sounded a different note at the conference.
"I think we are close to resolving our issues. We have so much in common," he said. Olson appears to hold out hope that Google will stop showing even snippets of text unless a tiny payment takes place. Publishers worry less about fiction titles than about nonfiction works like reference works or cookbooks, where even small snippets can be valuable to researchers and, err, cooks.
No word on whether any of the more cantankerous publishers tried to steal Google laptops this time around to teach the lads from Mountain View about "theft."
Reuters covers the Fair, talks about GoogleDeutsche Welle covers thelaunchof LibrekaThe Guardian was also there, and reveals that former 007 Roger Moore held a bidding war for his forthcoming autobiography, which will no doubt be fascinating, and also able to shoot missiles