Google ( GOOG) isn't holding any grudges against the publishing industry. The giant search engine, which is being sued over book copyrights supposedly infringed by its book-search plan, now wants to form partnerships with publishers to offer online access to their titles. People would be able to read a copy of the book that they access online through their account under the program available through Google Book Search. They won't be able to save the book on their computer or to copy pages, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said in a statement on its Web site. Publishers will be able to choose what titles that they want to be sold digitally. "It's a way for publishers to experiment with a new method for earning money from their books," Google says in a statement on its Web site. "Think of it as a way to reach more users by offering a new version of your book with a different reading experience." Most of the fees collected by Google from consumers will go to publishers, according to Publishers Weekly. Users interesting in purchasing traditional copies of the books are directed to links to retailers such as Amazon.com ( AMZN). Book publishers, who have traditionally shied away from selling online access to their titles because of concerns about piracy, are becoming increasingly interested in selling their content online, says Patricia Schroeder, the head of the Association of American Publishers, which is suing Google over its book-scanning efforts. "They certainly would like to sell things like this," she says. Last year, Google was sued by both the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers for copyright infringement. Google has argued that its book-indexing efforts are legal under the fair-use doctrine of copyright law. The publishers' case is currently in the discovery process and Google doesn't appear interested in settling, Schroeder says.
"We haven't heard a thing from Google," she says. Google's efforts are similar to separate plans announced last year by Amazon.com and publisher Random House to sell access to books by the page. Those programs had limited appeal for publishers since people wouldn't likely be interested in buying access to certain types of books, such as mysteries. This is all part of Google's goal to organize the world's information. Lately, though, Google has had difficulty is disseminating information about itself. The search-engine giant has annoyed investors through a recent series of gaffes including the accidental release of a sales forecast that the company said was erroneous. Shares of the company, which have tumbled 18% this year, fell 30 cents to $337.20.