Books will be digitized and searchable on Live Book Search
Microsoft has announced a deal with a digital scanning company Kirtas Technologies to produce digital books, nudging its way further into Google's territory.
Kirtas Technologies, a leading innovator and provider of digital scanning solutions, announced the signing of a digitization agreement with Microsoft Corp. to provide the highest quality digital books available in the world.
Kirtas Technologies, a maker of high-speed scanners, whose robotic scanners can scan at a rate of 2,400 pages per hour, said it will digitize works for Microsoft's Live Book Search web-based application, with the books starting to appear online early next year.
“Kirtas can scan books at a speed of around 2,400 pages per hour -- approximately eight minutes per book.”
Staring early next year, these books will become gradually available to the general public through Live Book Search. Access to the books will strictly conform to -- widely accepted copyright laws.
Microsoft is planning to dodge the kind of copyright issues that have impeded Google by only scanning books that are no longer under copyright. The project includes both copyrighted material furnished by publisher partners as well as select collections of public domain material provided by library partners.
Dr. Lotfi Belkhir, CEO and founder of Kirtas Technologies, said: “Microsoft is a lot smarter than Google and is only focusing on books in the public domain.”
The Digital Race
The partnership with Kirtas is but one move among many that Microsoft has made of late to kick-start its Live Book Search program. In conjunction with the Kirtas announcement, the software giant announced it had landed an Ivy League library card to boost the number of titles that would be made available.
"We believe that searching and finding relevant book content will become an important and integral component to the search experience of Web users worldwide," said Danielle Tiedt, General Manager of the Live Search Selection Team at Microsoft. "That is why Microsoft has made the decision to enable this experience as a key part of our strategy to compete in this arena. We view Kirtas' innovative technology and expertise in this field as a key enabler of this massive undertaking."
Microsoft will be scanning books from Cornell University's library. Redmond already has announced partnerships with the British Library and libraries at the University of California and the University of Toronto.
Cornell University Library has joined the British Library, University of California and University of Toronto in collaborating with Microsoft to get its public domain materials online.
Microsoft has collaborated with Cornell University Library (CUL) in a win- win relationship where Microsoft digitizes CUL's outstanding collections for its Live Book Search portal, while CUL is enabled to meet the increasing demand of its Library users for online access to high-quality full-text scholarly material.
Librarians at the school would decide which books to scan, and oversee the scanning process to ensure quality, Microsoft said.
A spokesman for Cornell University told silicon.com around 100,000 volumes from the library will be scanned by Kirtas over the next year and "if all goes well, we expect to expand in terms of volume and format".
The spokesman added the deal with Microsoft is non-exclusive and does not preclude Cornell from signing a deal with Google in the future.
"I especially commend the CUL leadership for both their dedication to Large Scale digitization and their uncompromising attitude towards quality standards," said Dr. Belkhir. "This 3-way partnership proves that libraries do not have to settle for inferior digitization just because it is subsidized by a corporate partner," Dr. Belkhir added.
We are delighted by this partnership with Microsoft to free up for the world at large hundreds of years of knowledge that is today held captive by exclusive library shelves. This is nothing less than the fulfillment of our founding mission to enable the moving of “560 years of backlog from books to bytes," said Dr. Belkhir.
Books scanned by the company would be available in mid-2007.
Microsoft selected Kirtas Technologies for its radically innovative book- scanning technology as well as its unique digitization expertise. Besides being the fastest robotic book scanner in the world, Kirtas' APT BookScan 2400 coupled with the BookScan Editor PRO software delivers superior image quality with a book handling that is gentler than the human hand.
"Kirtas' involvement was a key factor in our decision making process. The combination of their revolutionary book scanning technology, their digitization know-how, and their ability to meet our tough quality requirements won the day," said Cornell University Librarian Sarah E. Thomas.
Kirtas is quickly ramping up its digitization capacity in Victor, NY to meet fast growing demand for its digitization services, and planning on adding satellite operations in the US and abroad. "We are seeing an explosion of demand for our digitization services driven primarily by an emerging market, our revolutionary technology and our commitment to unmatched quality standards," said Dr. Belkhir.
Furthermore, Kirtas' Service Bureau has mastered a proprietary digitization process that guarantees an overall error rate lower than 1 per 10,000 pages, ensuring a quality mass digitization that will meet the highest standards and endure the test of time.
Google launched Google Book Search, originally called Google Print, last November. However, at the time, some publishers argued they would rather have their books discovered elsewhere, and the project ran into litigation trouble.
Google has been striking similar deals over the past year. Last November, the search giant announced plans to put 15 million volumes from the libraries of Stanford, Michigan, and Harvard universities online, in addition to works from the New York Public Library.
And in recent weeks, Google added to its large-scale collection of public domain books when the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said it would provide access to 7.2 million titles for the project.
Windows Live Book Search differs from Google's offering in the way that it scans books. Whereas Microsoft has an opt-in process, Google is doing the opposite: publishers are required to opt-out if they do not want to participate. This method has angered publishers, and triggered several lawsuits.
Most recently, the Authors Guild filed a suit in federal court charging that Google's plan to digitize the entire collections of five libraries violated author copyrights.
Microsoft said its own program includes both copyrighted material furnished by publishing partners and select collections of public-domain material provided by library partners. According to Microsoft, access to the books will conform to copyright laws.