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Google book search to go 'Kitaabi'

In its mission to organise information and make it accessible, Google is eyeing the Hindi book segment.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 12:51 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

In its "mission" to "organise all the world's information and make it universally accessible," search behemoth Google is now eyeing the Hindi book segment for digitisation as part of its Book Search initiative.

The Google Book Search basically digitises books through a technique called Optical Character Recognition, or the OCR.

Web surfers looking for books in Hindi will soon be able to do that using some keywords as it is currently done on any search engine.

"We don't currently have any Hindi language books in our search programme as we have just begun discussions with Hindi language publishers. We will have the service available once we have a critical mass of Hindi language books," Gautam Anand, Strategic Partner Development Manager, Google Inc said in an interview.

Any publisher irrespective of the size of the company can be part of this programme. Only condition being that a book or a PDF format of the book has to be sent to Google for digitisation.

It's not as if Google is printing books, or that any of these books' complete editions will be available. Around twenty per cent of the book including the index and a few pages will be available through the programme.

Some of the Hindi books that are in the public domain (outside the purview of the copyright laws) can be accessed completely.

What will the publishers gain through this programme? "Publishers can avail of the benefits of this free marketing programme as the details of a publisher will be published. Anybody from anywhere in the world can contact the publisher," says Anand.

"This will definetly help Hindi publishers as they will be able to reach out to more people interested in Hindi books," says Shakti Malik, President, Federation of Indian Publishers.

In a recent interaction with publishers from various parts of country on the sidelines of the World Book Fair in New Delhi, Google was flooded with enquiries about the programme in other Indian languages. Google says that it is thinking about it.

"We hope to include other languages as well. It is not incumbent upon the response we get from Hindi language publishers, but on when we feel comfortable that the OCR technology is in a state where we can accurately index books in other regional languages," says Anand.

It is not that publishers are not without their fears. "See, Google will have a complete digitised version of our books and it is quite possible that if Google's system is hacked into, thousands of publishers' books could be compromised," says Ashok Mathur, a publisher.

But Google says that it has a foolproof system in place. "We have several different security measures in place in order to protect publisher content. And, we have thousands of publishers who are already participating and they consist of both large and small publishers as well as individual authors," says Anand.

According to Google, the response from the Indian publishers has been encouraging. "We started discussions with Indian Publishers this year at the Frankfurt Book Fair and the response has been extremely positive," says Anand.

Initially when Google announced its initiave to digitise books of various public libraries, publishers around the world feared that their business was threatened. But Google says that this programme acts as a research tool and a public resource.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 11:53 IST