The traditional bookshop today found itself confronted with a new cutthroat competitor, as Google launched a service that allows users to download and print classic novels and other books in the public domain for free. The search engine's Book Search service will carry titles such as Dante’s Inferno and Aesop’s Fables, which users will be able to search for online, download as a PDF file and print out. It is the first time Google has given readers the chance to print out their own copies of books. The company will make money by showing keyword-triggered text ads on search-results pages - similar to those on google.com. Traditional booksellers, already facing fierce competition from online rivals such as Amazon.com, said the Google service was a threat, but added people would remain attracted to traditionally bound books . "Pressure has been piling up, from the Internet, on booksellers for some time," Jeff Towns of Dylans Book Store, an independent bookshop, said. "But how many pages would you have to print out to get a copy of a book from the web and what will it look like? This could well be one more nail in the coffin for booksellers, but we'll hope that the pendulum will swing the other way - towards traditional books - as well." The Book Search service is part of Google's mission to make all the world's information available online - an endeavour the company has said could take 300 years. It will be run in parallel with Google's plan to place texts from the world's great libraries on the Internet. The Books Library Project, launched in 2004, is scanning books from major libraries including Oxford University's Bodleian Library. Google is also running a pilot project with the US Library of Congress. Moves to make books available online have drawn anger from publishing groups, including the Association of American Publishers, which last year took legal action against Google for allegedly breaching copyright laws. Google has countered by saying it only makes available short passages of copyrighted works, which constitutes "fair use". The Book Search service will only allow people to print books that are out of copyright, Google has said. "A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired," it said. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.
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