Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Demise of Microsoft Live Search Books

It was announced this week that Microsoft is pulling the plug on its Live Search Books project. The major players are now Google and the Open Content Alliance.

Microsoft had digitized 750,000 books. I had thought the number must be much higher, so that was a surprise. I remember speaking to a Microsoft rep at a conference and mentioned some problems with the book website and he said they were working to make it better. And later I noticed they fixed something I had mentioned.

I wonder if the average person had ever heard of Microsoft's project. It was Google Books that garnered all the publicity. Most of the news stories in the mainstream media focused on Google with rarely a mention of Microsoft's initiative. Google has marketed itself well--it even has a blog for its book project.

But Microsoft's digital books website always remained hidden from view somehow. I always felt that at some point Microsoft would launch a major blitz to tell the world what it was doing, but it never happened. It hindsight, it all seems pointless, except that the books that were scanned now go into the hands of the copyright holders and they should become available to the public.