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HarperCollins To Take Control of Its Digital Books Away From Search Companies

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December 15-31, 2005 Edition

HarperCollins To Take

Control of Its Digital Books

Away From Search Companies

NEW YORK, NY/12/13/05—News Corp’s HarperCollins has announced a move designed to prevent big Internet companies from taking control of books that the publishing company has purchased, edited, and published.

HarperCollins Publishers will digitize its active backlist of about 20,000 titles and roughly 3500 new books each year, then make them available to search services such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon, while holding onto the physical digital files, according to a December 12, 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Kevin J. Delaney.

The Journal article called the plan “an aggressive response to anxieties felt by publishers worried that they will lose control over their intellectual property.” Publishers are taking active steps to control and participate in the new online use of their books.

The WSJ article quoted Jane Friedman, chief executive of News Corp’s Harpercollins Publishers: "Now is the time to build a digital infrastructure that will allow us to protect our rights and the rights of our authors. We will make all of our books available digitally, but we will store the digital copies and license them out to those who want to use them."

"We didn't like being seen as Luddites," she added. "We see what's going on, and we get it. We want to be the best collaborator, but we also want to take charge of our future."

Instead of sending copies of its books to various Internet companies for digitizing, as it does now, HarperCollins will create a digital file of books in its own digital warehouse, the WSJ article said. Search companies such as Google will then be allowed to create an index of each book's content so that when consumers do a search, they'll be pointed to a page view. However, that view will be hosted by a server in the HarperCollins digital warehouse.

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2005; Page B1. Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com and Kevin J. Delaney at kevin.delaney@wsj.com