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