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Google is offering to publish millions of printed paperback books at US$8 a copy as it faces growing barriers in its plans to digitise millions of out-of-print books, in many cases without obtaining permission of the authors.

The books which can be printed out on high speed publishing machines that look like vending machines will allow retailers to sell books without having to stock a single paperback. It will also allow Google to place advertising inside books they deliver to PDF readers and printing systems.

 The move came as the US Department of Justice advised a federal court judge that a proposed legal settlement giving Google the digital rights to millions of out-of-print books threatens to thwart competition and drive up prices.

 The brief filed in New York federal court on Friday marks the first time that the Justice Department has publicly entered the debate over Google’s agreement with a large class of US authors and publishers. Justice expressed confidence that Google and the author and publishers can negotiate changes so that the settlement will adhere to US copyright and antitrust laws.

 Google reacted with a PR offensive. It promises to resurrect 2 million books in its digital library as paperbacks. The reprints will have a recommended sales price of $8 a copy.

 It will open part of its index to On Demand Books, the US company that makes the Espresso Book Machine, a high-speed publishing system that can manufacture a paperback book of about 300 pages in less than five minutes.

The Internet search leader says not everyone wants their books served up on a computer or an electronic reader. Espresso Book Machine printers are available in Australia, with a number already installed in Angus & Robertson stores.

 

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