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Microsoft kills off book, academic search products

Live Search Books

Last year Google and Microsoft spent a lot of time trying to one up one another in the area of book search. Both companies launched products that would let users search within the text of thousands of books and display results in a web browser. Some of the books were public domain while others were copyrighted works scanned either with the consent of the copyright holders or in some cases without it. The whole thing was actually rather controversial. Except here's the thing - we're not sure either company bothered to find out if anybody was going to use the book search products.

About a year and a half after announcing the launch of its book search project, Microsoft is shutting down Live Search Books. The company is also shutting down the Live Search Academic project. Both web sites will be removed next week. Microsoft says books and academic results will be integrated into the regular search results but will no longer be indexed separately.

Microsoft digitized more than 750,000 books and 80 million journal articles over the past year or two. But the company has since had an epiphany - if you want to be in the search engine business you don't need to post content online, you just need to crawl it. So rather than continuing to scan books and articles that few people will read, Microsoft will wait for publishers to post their own content online and then scan it. We're betting Microsoft probably could have saved a lot of money if they had come to this decision a bit earlier.

Anyone want to guess how long it takes for Google to follow suit? Or is there actually a business model under which book scanning and search products actually make economic sense for Google?

[via Search Engine Land]


Tags: academic-search, book-search, google, microsoft, search

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