Google Acquires eBook Technologies
Google has kicked off 2011 with a new acquisition. The search engine giant purchased online publishing company eBook Technologies.
“EBook Technologies, Inc. is excited to announce that we have been acquired by Google,” the company said in a note on its Web site. “Working together with Google will further our commitment to providing a first-class reading experience on emerging tablets, e-readers and other portable devices.”
Few other details were provided. Most of the links on eBook Technologies’s Web site now re-direct to the Google acquisition note.
“We are happy to welcome eBook Technologies’ team to Google,” Google said in a statement. “Together, we hope to deliver richer reading experiences on tablets, electronic readers and other portable devices.”
The eBook Technologies site says it provides a suite of reading devices and licenses for automated publishing and content distribution control.
In early December, Google launched Google eBooks, a service for buying and reading digital books. The cloud-based service allows users to read books directly in the browser; a dedicated e-reading device is not necessary. Google will fold its existing e-book service, Google Books, into Google eBooks.
Google’s e-book efforts have been complicated. In 2004, Google partnered with major university libraries to scan their collections and make them available on the Internet. But the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Author’s Guild sued Google for copyright infringement in 2005. In October 2008, the two sides announced a $125 million agreement that would create a registry of online books, and allow U.S. consumers and institutions to purchase access to that material.
The settlement has faced opposition, however. In September 2009, the Department of Justice urged the court to reject Google’s book deal, so Google and content groups came up with a revised settlement in November. While the DOJ said the new deal included several improvements, the agency said in February that it still had problems with class certification, copyright and antitrust issues.
In August 2010, the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), joined by four other groups, four photographers, and two illustrators filed their own suit after a judge denied their request to join the $125 million class-action settlement. The groups accused Google of illegally scanning books that include copyrighted images for its Google Books project.