Google Books in business after deal with on-demand printer

NEW YORK - US readers now have access to more than two million out-of-print books after Google signed an agreement with an on-demand printing company which allows the titles to be printed and bound in minutes.

The agreement has been signed by Google with On Demand Books, which makes a printer called the Espresso Book Machine.

The printer can create a library-quality paperback, complete with a full-colour cover, in just a few minutes.

The books can be printed at locations such as libraries and universities and posted out to readers. Each book is likely to sell for around $8 (£4.89).

The Google Books project has been divisive since it first emerged that the search giant was digitising millions of out-of-print titles.

Initially the Authors Guild objected to the plan, but is now supporting it after agreeing a deal with Google to pay authors when their books are sold.

Now other digital giants, including Amazon and Microsoft, are accusing Google of creating a monopoly with the deal, and are filing an antitrust lawsuit in the US.

Google argues that as it is only selling out-of-print books -- titles not available to buy elsewhere -- it is in fact of benefit to readers.

Dane Neller, CEO and co-founder of On Demand Books, said: "Instead of the traditional Gutenberg model of centrally producing, shipping and selling we sell first, then produce. In a matter of minutes you can get a paperback book identical to one you can get in a store at point of sale.

"In addition to readers, On Demand Books will bring substantial benefits to authors, retailers and publishers. It has the potential to change the publishing industry."

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