German Book Publishers Launch Libreka; Billed as Alternative to Google Book Search

A group of German book publishers is behind, a new book search engine intended to be an alternative Google’s own book scan and search program. According to Deutsche Welle, the new service, which launched this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair, contains just 8,000 German language volumes, each of which the publishers opted to have included. This is in contrast to the “opt-out” approach favored by Google. Of course, because publishers have to opt in to Libreka (a word derived from the words for “free” and “book”, as well as eureka), the project is going to have a hard time coming close to Google’s size, possibly limiting its appeal. As such, the site is currently geared towards bookstore owners, who might want to put it on their sites as a guide for customers, making it less of an actual competitor to Google’s service. Still, as RĂ¼diger Salat, an executive at publishing house Holtzbrinck, put it, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) may one day be a friend to publishers, but for now it’s “more an enemy”. Libreka is based on book search technology developed by Indian software company MPS, in which Holrtzbrinck is an investor.

Also, while Libreka is a private venture, it feels similar, at least in sentiment, to Quaero, the Euro-backed search project intended to be an alternative to Google. Germany actually pulled out of the project earlier this year, in part because some participants weren’t comfortable with the idea of an explicitly anti-Google endeavor. Instead, Germany opted to support Theseus, a semantic web project led by SAP and Siemens.


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