Friday, May 23, 2008

Live Search Books and Live Search Academic RIP

Life on the Internet is short lived and what was heralded in 2006 as the answer to all searches, Windows Live Book Search is being wound down. Their relentless hovering of all before them, was only matched by their often lack of real market understanding. The capture of national archives was seen by some as bad, blind and the act of an omnivore and by others as the act of an archivist and as a counter balance to that other omnivore, Google’s Book Search.

Below is a statement from Windows Live Search official blog which we stumbled across today :

Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes.

This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.

Given the evolution of the Web and our strategy, we believe the next generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable business model for the search engine, consumer, and content partner. For example, this past Wednesday we announced our strategy to focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers. With Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, we digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles. 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.
As we wind down Live Search Books, we are reaching out to participating publishers and libraries. We are encouraging libraries to build on the platform we developed with Kirtas, the Internet Archive, CCS, and others to create digital archives available to library users and search engines.

In partnership with Ingram Digital Group, we are also reaching out to participating publishers with information about new marketing and sales opportunities designed to help them derive ongoing benefits from their participation in the Live Search Books Publisher Program.

We have learned a tremendous amount from our experience and believe this decision, while a hard one, can serve as a catalyst for more sustainable strategies. To that end, 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. We hope that our investments will help increase the discoverability of all the valuable content that resides in the world of books and scholarly publications.

Satya Nadella
Senior vice president search, portal and advertising

Well where does this leave us? The answer is not simple, but the point that we think is relevant, is that often outsiders come into a market with money ideas and a mission. They stomp over everyone and are often single minded both in their attitude and the lack of real understanding of their actions. Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Sony, Philips, Nokia, Samsung etc all will enter quickly and may leave just as quickly. They are often treated with mixed emotions, but one always has to remember is that this isn’t their primary market and they are not driven by book sales. They are driven by advertising revenues, device sales and a whole host of other stuff.

We will all wake tomorrow, get up and maybe, just maybe, some will finally smell the coffee that was smelt by others some time ago.