This week, we look at how web publishing can help children and Google's new push for the ad dollars of local businesses.

Books for Kids

Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation are making free digital books accessible to kids online, and then giving away print books to other kids when someone reads the digital ones.

The We Give Books campaign has banded with a growing list of non-profits and will donate a brand new hardcover or paperback book to a child in need for each book read online at www.wegivebooks.org.

An Upturn in Web Adverstiing?

Now if you’re skeptical about web publishing helping companies turn a profit, we offer a few honorable mentions.

Yahoo reports a 20 percent increase in sales of display ads on its own sites. Despite that success, however, the company still reported a decline in the sale of the company’s search ads --- and Yahoo’s overall net revenue was down 2.5 percent for the quarter. They seem to be optimistic about the sales increase, calling it a sign that “large advertisers came back” and that businesses that cut back on their ad spending during the recession seems to be “re-emerging to position their brands online.”

Are Business Going to Google Places?

Google is also renewing its push for the ad dollars of local businesses with an overhaul of its Local Business Center, which it is now calling Google Places.

For more than eight months, the Local Business Center has allowed business to edit websites -- called “Place Pages” -- which Google automatically generates about them and links to from Google Maps, featuring contact info, reviews, and photos.

Google is now letting businesses in several cities pay a flat US$ 25 monthly fee to promote their “Place Pages” via bright yellow markers called “Tags” which show up in Google Maps.

The first version, launched in October 2009, let businesses in certain cities pay a monthly fee to promote their “Place Pages” on Google Maps. That plan was quickly put to sleep a few months later with the promise that a more enhanced version was underway. The new version of the ad product is available in five cities and “in the coming weeks” will come to five more.