Day: September 6, 2006

Google News Archive! This is very important

Blink and you will miss it

Many of the book readers amongst us will have missed the Launch of Google Archive. That’s okay I wouldn’t feel too bad about it. Google hardly made a huge fuss over it and not many people have noticed beyond a cluster of techies and the like. But it is actually pretty important. In fact I think it the most significant thing to happen to the publishing industry since Google News and Google Book Search. But if you want to read some more: here are some of the comments, click a few links.

And you are wondering why?

Well the reason this is important is that many of the works and archives available in Google News Archive are still being charged for by newspapers and their web-sites. What that represents is an admission by newspapers and magazines that they need search, Yup you heard it, they need their archive material to be crawled by google and returned in results so that people can find it.

And as if the parallels were not obvious for publishing I will spell it out. Archives are exceptionally valuable sources of income for newspapers just as for book publishers, backlists are great revenue streams. The New York Times with its times select service has garnered some $9 million but there is a real problem with its system. By putting it behind a barrier you exclude search engines which is making their archives hard to find and more difficult to monetize either through contextual advertising or access fees. This move as I have said is about squaring the circle and enabling Media companies to get searches directly to their content and enabling them to monetize that content. Its all about Money and in this instance Search = Money.

So if backlists are money too (just currently unreachable money) then what are the implications for publishers?

We need Search. We might no like Google, heck we might think they are evil despite their famous “Don’t be Evil” motto but we sure need their 60% of the search market. If there were ever a louder wake up call for an industry to just get on with getting everything online and searchable this is it. The Newspaper industry has accepted the necessity of change and book publishers will simply have to change too.

There is no reason why it has to be just Google. We can partner with everyone. The more we put out there the more we will drive searchers to out content and the easier it will be for us to monetize and profit from it. And what is more we need to learn that standalone is not enough. Yes its valuable to digitise and get your own content ready for the web but leaving it stuck in a single silo with no links or search potential is foolhardy at best.

I feel like a broken record saying this kind of thing. The short version is embrace Google Book Search. The long version is in many other blog posts.

Just a few notes:

Like most of Google’s moves in recent years this one has a feel of half-baked or launched before its time-ness to it. But if the product develops as rapidly as some of its other forays and fi they integrate it well into native Search results over time then its value will be compelling.
For now you have to go to the source to pay for and to access the article but I have a feeling that over time and as the source newspapers begin to see the value of it, Google’s own Payment system will become an integral part of this offering.
Not everyone is on board with this project yet and the best round-up is Rafat’s from paidcontent.org (A Blog all publishers should read daily).

Amazed at the enormity of this announcement
Eoin