Google Book Search goes live

Download classics for free

Google is making waves in the publishing industry by offering free PDFs of out-of-copyright books.

Classic literature fans will be able to download Dante's Divine Comedy, access Aesop's Fables and get hold of other popular classics and rare books that are no longer subject to copyright through Google's Book Search service.

Because the books are now in the public domain, Google can scan the tomes and make them available online. Users will also be able to print the books; up until now, they had to content themselves with reading the classics online.

However, books still under copyright will only have bibliographies and limited extracts available through the search service.

The downloadable books can be searched by title; at present, there is no separate section to distinguish them from the copyrighted works.

The book search service is part of a larger project that Google is undertaking with universities to digitise the works of several libraries and put them online in a searchable format.

The University of California is the latest educational institution to sign up to the project, which has already got Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan, University of Oxford, and the New York Public Library on board.

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