Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries. With our investments, the technology to create these repositories is now available at lower costs for those with the commercial interest or public mandate to digitize book content. We will continue to track the evolution of the industry and evaluate future opportunities.
Project equipment, resources and scanned books will be distributed to various stakeholders:
… we intend to provide publishers with digital copies of their scanned books. We are also removing our contractual restrictions placed on the digitized library content and making the scanning equipment available to our digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs.
(Update: 5/23/08, 2 p.m.): Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive credits Microsoft for removing content restrictions and allowing organizations to keep the scanning equipment:
This is extremely important because it can allow those of us in the public sphere to leverage what they helped build. Keeping the public domain materials public domain is where we all wanted to be. Getting a books scanning process in place is also a major accomplishment. Thank you Microsoft.