Google Book Search Logo So the word is out that Google is now letting users download books for free from the Google Books site. I went ahead and decided to try it because I wanted to see how they would prevent other sites from downloading the PDF and redistributing it themselves.

I found Aesop’s “Fables” and downloaded the 308 page book. The first thing that I was greeted with after downloading the PDF was a “Guidelines” page. It went over the usual “non-commercial use” and “keep it legal” stuff that we would expect it to have. That was just the first page though…you know that isn’t all they would do.

They also mention that they added a “Digitized by Google” watermark to each page. Interesting enough they say “please do not remove it” but they don’t say that you can’t remove it. I would have thought that the watermark served some sort of legal purpose but they say it is there to inform people about the project and to help them find additional materials.

The watermark is very light and can hardly be seen though. Would I read an entire book this way? It’s hard to say but I think they need to come out with their own book reader so that it can resize the window to eliminate the margins that are around their scanned images. If you read the book online they have a nice layout to it but most people wouldn’t want to read the whole thing on a Web site.

Whatever you do make sure you return the book on time! You don’t want to get a fine!

The Official Google Blog has finally made the announcement and they list several books that you can download for free.