Tens of thousands of out-of-copyright books are set to become available online when Microsoft releases Live Search Books to beta on Wednesday.
Live Search Books (books.live.com) is initially restricted to only include non-copyright books scanned from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto. Partnerships with the New York Public Library and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine have also been announced.
Live Search Books' "Search inside a book" feature allows users to search the full texts of scanned books. Copyrighted books will be added to the collection later, but only those submitted to Microsoft by publishers or authors.
Microsoft has also updated the beta of Live Search Academic (academic.live.com) - adding millions of new articles, primarily bio-medical content. Live Search Academic now indexes thousands of academic journals in the computer science, engineering, physics, and bio-medical fields as well as theses and dissertations.
The ambitious book scanning project began just over 12 months ago and received a significant boost in October when Microsoft signed an agreement with digital scanning solutions provider Kirtas Technologies. Kirtas' robotic scanners can scan and store up to 2400 pages per hour with error rates lower than 1 in 10,000 pages.
Microsoft's policy of only scanning copyrighted books with the publisher or author's consent contrasts with Google's approach of scanning all the books from participating libraries, including the libraries of Stanford, Michigan and Harvard Universities and of the New York Public Library. Only public domain books are available for full text views, but several publishers and authors have taken legal action against Google, as has the US Authors Guild.