Microsoft Shutting Down Book Search

Posted on May 27, 2008

The AP reports that Microsoft is shutting down its book scanning operations to focus on other search operations. Microsoft announced its decision in a blog post. They will be taking down two websites that let people search the contents on books and academic periodicals.

The world's largest software maker is under pressure to show it has a coherent strategy for turning around its unprofitable online business after its bid for Yahoo Inc., last valued at $47.5 billion, collapsed this month.

Digitizing books and archiving academic journals no longer fits with the company's plan for its search operation, wrote Satya Nadella, senior vice president of Microsoft's search and advertising group, in a blog post Friday.

Microsoft will take down two separate sites for searching the contents of books and academic journals next week, and Live Search will direct Web surfers looking for books to non-Microsoft sites, the company said.

Unlike Google Book Search, Microsoft was only scanning books available in the public domain or books that publishers had given them permission to scan.
Microsoft entered the book-scanning business in 2005 by contributing material to the Open Content Alliance, an industry group conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo. In 2006, it unveiled its competing MSN book search site.

Unlike Google, whose decision to scan books still protected under copyright law has provoked multiple lawsuits, Microsoft stuck to scanning books with the permission of publishers or that were firmly in the public domain.

The company said it will give publishers digital copies of the 750,000 books and 80 million journal articles it has amassed.

Microsoft's search engine is a distant third behind Google's and Yahoo's, in terms of the number of queries performed each month, despite the company's many attempts to emulate Google's innovative search features and create some of its own.

The Register has a grim article about Microsoft's decision saying they have basically handed Google the future of digital books. This move may allow Google to dominate digital book search but other companies - including Amazon and its Kindle reader - still have a powerful say in electronic books.

It will be gone soon but you can still find Microsoft's Live Book Search online for a short time longer.

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