( Reuters ) - Random House, the world's biggest book publisher, is considering joining a book-search project run by Google, once considered an arch-enemy by the paper publishing industry.
The two parties are talking to one another about the less controversial part of Google's book-scanning project, its partner program, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair.
Google has agreements with more than 10,000 publishers, large and small, who give their books to Google to be scanned in full. Google then makes them partially available -- according to agreements with each publisher -- for online readers.
It also works with 27 academic and reference library partners to gain access to out-of-print works.
But part of the library project has proved controversial and thrown Google into legal dispute with U.S. publishers as Google also scans works from its U.S. library partners that are still in copyright without asking the publishers first.
Random House, a unit of German media group Bertelsmann, has until now held out and not joined the publisher partner program, which can help boost book sales, especially of publishers' so-called backlists of older titles.
When asked this week whether the parties were close to an agreement, a Random House spokesman said: "Random House continues to have periodic constructive conversations with Google on issues of mutual relevance."
Google declined to comment.