Dis*Content: Google May Starting Indexing Offline Publications

This may not necessarily be news, since it is already public that Google has been talking to book publishers on developing a search database similar to what Amazon.com has done with its book text search feature, but I decided to pass this along anyway…Google may be thinking of expanding this to offline magazines and newsletters as well, according to a source.

Google is surveying the field with an online focus group among media executives…the basic concept is simple: take offline publications, digitize, archive them, and allow users to search on them.

The search result is an abstract and then users will have to pay to read the full article/story/extract. It seems as if it would be logical to focus the service on niche, trade users. If this service does go beyond the beta/testing/concept stage, then it may be competing directly against entrenched B2B players like Lexis-Nexis, Factiva, Alacritude and others.

Another top media executive I spoke to told me that Google has indeed made the rounds of magazine companies…the general idea, according to the executive, is that Google and Yahoo don’t like it that more and more content is going behind paid walls that they don’t pick-up. At the very least they want deals with the publishers so that they can index paid content.

On competing against B2B players, the executive told me: “Factiva and Lexis would respond to the question of their sustainability by saying that this is not a problem that you can easily crack with Google technology and distribution. Quark conversion, rights issues, branding, contracts with hundreds of publishers, and inconsistent business models are the tough issues that take years of effort.”

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