Microsoft To Shut Live Search Books

Michael Arrington
TechCrunch.com
Friday, May 23, 2008; 2:09 PM

Microsoft is shutting down its book digitization initiative, which launched in 2006, the company said in an email today (full text is below). The publisher site is already down, the books site itself will be shut next week, and Microsoft posted a blog post on it here.

The company has digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles to date. Google's competing product, Book Search, is adding 3,000 books per day to their index, although they have not disclosed the total number of books scanned.

The New York Times had a good overview of the book digitization process in an article last year. There are also a few examples of some funny stuff getting into the scans.

The image to the right is the Kirtas APT Book Scan 2400 Gold robotic scanner, which can read 2,400 pages an hour. Microsoft used these machines to scan books.

Email from Microsoft:

Dear Live Search Books Publisher Program Partner,

We are writing today to inform you that we are ending the Live Search Books Publisher Program, including our digitization initiative, and closing the Live Search Books site. We recognize that this is disappointing news to you and to the users of the Live Search Books service. Ending the Live Search Books program is the result of a strategic decision on our part to focus our investments in new vertical search areas where we believe we can more effectively differentiate Live Search.

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 search engines, consumers, and content partners. 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 theindustry and evaluate future opportunities.

As we wind down Live Search Books we will be reaching out to you in partnership with Ingram Digital Group with information on new marketing and sales opportunities designed to help you derive ongoing benefits from your participation in the Live Search Books Publisher Program. As part of this initiative, we will be making the scan files we created from your print book submissions available to you for free. We will follow-up next week with more information on these offers.

The Live Search Books Publisher Program site (http://publisher.live.com) will be taken down immediately. The Live Search Books site (http://books.live.com) will be taken down next week.

We sincerely appreciate your support and regret any inconvenience that this decision has caused. You can read more about this announcement on The Live Search blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch).

Sincerely,

The Live Search Books Team

books@microsoft.com


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