Want 300 Pages in 5 Minutes? Google It

Search giant gives new life to old books

By Jessica Greene
|  Thursday, Sep 17, 2009  |  Updated 12:28 PM PDT
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Want 300 Pages in 5 Minutes? Google It

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Google has been turning some of the country's best research into digital documents for a few years now, but now they can take on more and do it in less time.

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Remember holding a book in your hands, using an actual bookmark to hold your spot? Those days could easily fade away in this modern age of e-readers. But years ago, Google has recognized the traditional way to consume reading material and today unveiled a way to give old books new live in a matter of minutes.

Google has been turning some of the country's best research into digital documents for a few years now, but today's announcement means the service can take on more and do it in less time.

As part of a deal announced Thursday, Google is opening up a segment of its index to the maker of a high-speed publishing machine that can print a paperback book of about 300 pages in under five minutes.

The new service shows that the folks at Google recognize literature-lovers are not always looking for their favorite book in a digital form.

The Espresso Book Machine has been around for several years already, but it figures to become a hotter commodity now that it has access to so many books scanned from some of the world's largest libraries. And On Demand Books, the Espresso's maker, potentially could get access to even more hard-to-find books if Google wins court approval of a class-action settlement giving it the right to sell out-of-print books.

"This is a seminal event for us," said Dane Neller, On Demand Books' chief executive, as he oversaw a demonstration of the Espresso Book Machine Wednesday at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

"It's like things are coming full circle," Google spokeswoman Jennie Johnson said. "This will allow people to pick up the physical copy of a book even if there may be just one or two other copies in some library in this country, or maybe it's not even available in this country at all."

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