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Google will scan Austrian books

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Austria's national library has struck a 30-million-euro deal with Google to digitise 400,000 copyright-free books, spanning 400 years of European history.

The project concerns one of the world's five biggest collections of 16th- to 19th-century literature, totalling some 120 million pages, according to the library.

Under the deal, Google will cover the costs of digitising the collection -- around 50 to 100 euros (60 to 120 dollars) per book. The library will pay to prepare the books for scanning, store the book data, and provide public access to it.

Scanning work is to begin in 2011 in Bavaria in southern Germany, and is expected to last around six years.

The library hopes the process will help preserve its original works, as well as providing digital back-up copies in case of a disaster.

Google will not have exclusive use of the scanned books, which will be accessible on the library's website www.onb.ac.at, the Google Books library at books.google.fr and its European counterpart www.europeana.eu.