Bless the net...
September 6, 2006
Google to Offer Print-Archives Searches
By JOHN MARKOFF
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 5 — Google plans to announce on Wednesday that it is offering a service that will permit Internet users to search through the archives of newspapers, magazines and other publications and uncover material that in some cases dates back more than 200 years.
The new feature, to be named Google News Archive Search, will direct Google searchers to both paid and free digital content on publishers’ Web sites, but will not directly generate revenue for Google.
Google would not state how many publishers were taking part in the new service, for which Google has independently indexed material from online databases and will display the results both as part of standard searches and through a new archive search page (news.google.com/archivesearch). However, it announced a number of partners including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Guardian Unlimited, Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, HighBeam Research and Thomson Gale.
In contrast to Google’s book scanning project, which has led to legal skirmishes with some publishers over copyright issues, some of the partners involved with the new service said they had been pressing Google to offer access to their archives for several years.
The databases included in the service are part of what some have called the “dark Web” because they cannot be “spidered,” or indexed, by standard search engines and so have not been accessible through them.
“We have been asking Google and other search engines to please spider our content for some time,” said Patrick Spain, chief executive of HighBeam Research, a digital content library based in Chicago.
Some of HighBeam’s 3,300 publications and 40 million documents will be available free, while in other cases users will see just the headline and the first 600 characters of a document. To see the whole thing, users must be subscribers to the firm’s service, which costs either $20 a month or a $100 annual fee.
“This symbolizes a major moment,” said Allen Weiner, a research director at Gartner, a market research firm. Google has reached an accommodation with the content companies that will benefit both sides, he said.
In a number of cases the entire archive of publications like Time and The Washington Post will be reachable via a Google search. Time’s entire database is already freely available and supported by advertising. The magazine made its archive, consisting of 4,300 issues and 300,000 articles dating back to 1923, available free through www.time.com last month.
With some publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, searchers will be sent to Web sites where they will be able to buy individual articles.
Google executives said that the archive service would not generate revenue directly and that the company did not yet know how it would make money from it.
“We’re not focusing on monetization yet,” said Anurag Acharya, a distinguished engineer at Google who helped develop the service. “This is new territory for us.”
The new service is not encyclopedic, Mr. Acharya said, but instead presents users with a representative list of relevant articles that are arranged in a timeline fashion. The service tries to offer a pointer to the time period that is most relevant to the search query. For example, in the case of the search phrase “moon landing,” an arrow points the user to 1969.
Mr. Weiner of Gartner said he expected Google to link the archive service to its Google Checkout payment system. In the future, he said, video archives are almost certain to be added.
“They have to convince CBS News to make Edward R. Murrow available,” he said.