Microsoft Gets Out Of Book Search, But Hands Tools Over To Libraries

from the some-good,-some-bad dept

In a somewhat unexpected move, Microsoft has announced that it’s abandoning its book scanning project. While Google’s book scanning project has received a lot more attention (and lawsuits) for the way it’s set up, Yahoo and Microsoft teamed up with the Internet Archive to try to do something similar, though focusing mostly on public domain works and other books where they have the publishers’ permission. Microsoft doesn’t give an entirely lucid explanation for giving up the project, but it is handing over the scanning systems it put together to its various library partners and hoping they’ll continue scanning on their own, saying:

“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.”

In some ways, this is a stunning quote coming from Microsoft, admitting that a publicly available repository, created by others an which anyone can index, is better than a proprietary and controlled solution. The company is probably correct that it’s better to have the content be available to any search engine rather than stuck in a silo, but there’s probably much more behind this reasoning — such as the fact that Google’s book scanning project seems to be gaining a lot more traction, perhaps because Google is doing deals with libraries to scan their books for free, while the Open Content Alliance (which Microsoft’s project was a part of) charges money to libraries.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft Gets Out Of Book Search, But Hands Tools Over To Libraries”

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Doug Robb (profile) says:

Show me the money

And in anycase you have to wonder where is the pay off for M$$$? Scanning books is expensive both in terms of time and resources so working out how they get a return on that investment is not obvious to me? It’s not exactly riviting must have content for most people ….

The library’s are in a better position to at least leverage what they already being funded for …. and google have a shotgun approach but even for them I don’t think it will be something they will grow into a significant revenue stream.

Craig H says:

Re: Show me the money

Doug said “…I don’t think it will be something they will grow into a significant revenue stream.”

There were people who once said that nobody would ever want a computer in their homes. Another infamous comment is “640K ought to be enough for anybody” etc.

Google was also criticized early in its life cycle because nobody thought you could make money with a search engine.

I really can’t believe that you think Google won’t make money on this. They have already figured it out, they just haven’t told us yet.

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