BA hits out at Google deal

<p>The UK Booksellers Association has slammed Google&#39;s provisional deal with US publishers to allow users to browse and buy millions of books online. The trade body warned that the arrangement could create &quot;a de facto monopoly&quot; and &quot;have a hugely damaging effect on the publishing and bookselling industry&quot; if adopted in the UK.</p><p>The internet search engine provisionally agreed to pay $125m to settle a five year long dispute last month. If the deal is given the go-ahead by a US court, users will be able to search and preview millions of additional titles, including out-of-print books, online via Google&#39;s Book Search programme. Money will be made from advertising, subscriptions and sales and will be split 63:37 between the rights holders and Google.<br /><br />The deal received a favourable response from publishers, with many in the UK believing that it was only a matter of time before a similar deal was introduced here. However, the Booksellers Association has become the first book trade body to heavily criticise the deal, claiming it a &quot;bridge too far&quot;. &quot;As such a dominant player in the online world, Google will now occupy a unique gateway position that, if abused, could easily create a de facto monopoly,&quot; the statement said. &quot;A situation where competition is removed from the market place by placing the keys in the hands of one company cannot, ultimately, be good for the consumer. This is a bridge too far. Monopolies = reduced choice and higher prices.&quot;<br /><br />The BA added that in the long term any deal would deny the customer a choice of retail channels and as well as the interactive experience of shopping, which can help break little known authors. &quot;This recent agreement, if ever adopted in the UK and Ireland, would have a hugely damaging effect on the publishing and bookselling industry and, consequently, for authors and the public as well,&quot; it stated.<br /><br />Last week, the Federation of European Publishers also said that books should be distributed through the widest number of channels as possible. &quot;In analysing the impact of the agreement, European publishers will consider the risk of a de facto monopoly for distribution of books that is contrary to the interest of society at large and is endangering European book industry and cultural diversity,&quot; it said. </p>