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The New York Times reports that Google has officially begun testing its book-searching tool. Called Google Print, it’s similar to the Search Inside the Book feature introduced on Amazon in October; surfers will be able to rummage through selected chapters of a book, as well as reviews and other related material.

As an author who writes about the Internet, I’ve often wondered when my own data would be uploaded into the fray. How would I feel about the piracy debate if people could be online swapping my book, Masters of Doom? At the moment, of course, no one’s swapping anything. Amazon and Google have no plans to make electronic versions of books available for searching; these are just image files, scanned copies of book pages. Either way, I’m looking forward to when my own book is up in the ether. Google and Amazon are providing an amazing tool for researchers, and I’m eager to be a part of it. If and when electronic versions of books start flying around the Internet, I might feel differently, but I doubt it. Books online won’t ever replace books offline, they’ll only expand the readership. The more readers, the better.

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