From The Economist:
Scanning Springer’s backlist proved no mean feat. First, the company had to figure out for which works Springer holds copyright, surveying records at all the firms swept up in recent years, says Thijs Willems, who heads the book-archiving project. To create a definitive list his group scoured old catalogs and national libraries. They eventually assembled an archive of 100,000 print books in English, Dutch and German, many of which were different editions of the same work. The firm arranged access from libraries to those that Springer had lost due to the vagaries of time, war, etc. It decided to scan only the last available edition of a given work; earlier editions might be added to the trove in the future.
Springer only began securing electronic rights in 1995. To make scanned versions of older books available, it often required tracking down and negotiating with estates and authors. Mr Willems says that living writers typically cheer the project, happy to see their books immortalised. The publisher also hoped to avoid the controversy surrounding Google Books, where the internet-search giant and academic institutions involved in the project owned no copyrights. In effect, Google tried to bypass the publishers, authors or libraries that held these rights, says Ray Colon, a Springer executive.
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