Ingram Offers Transition Option as Microsoft Live Search Books Ends
In a letter to its publishing partners, dated May 23, Microsoft announced that it would be ending its Live Search Books Publishing Program and closing the Live Search Books Web site. Microsoft, which launched the program at the end of 2006, worked with publishers to digitize their books and make them available and searchable on the Internet.
“Given the evolution of the Web and our strategy, we believe the next generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable business model for the search engine, consumer and content partner. For example, recently we announced our strategy to focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson. “With Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, we digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles. Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries. With our investments, the technology to create these repositories is now available at lower costs for those with the commercial interest or public mandate to digitize book content. We will continue to track the evolution of the industry and evaluate future opportunities.”
“With Google’s digitization programs (and other less-commercial digitization initiatives), publishers for the most part already had book content [that was] searchable,” says Andrew Brenneman, managing director of digital media consultancy Finitiv and a Book Business columnist, of Microsoft’s decision. “Searchability of content, therefore, was no longer a compelling incentive; the problem had [already] been solved. Somewhat late to the party, Microsoft has wisely adjusted their strategy to develop opportunities for the monetization of existing content repositories, as opposed to replicating those that already exist.”
For publishers participating in the Live Search Books program, Microsoft and Ingram Digital announced May 28 that Ingram would be offering “a transition option” into its Ingram Search and Discover platform—which originally was developed for retailers—at no cost, enabling publishers to continue making their content searchable and available to readers. Microsoft had contracted with Ingram Digital—an Ingram Content company focused on solutions for digital content management, distribution and promotion—approximately a year ago to help it manage the digitization of book titles from commercial publishers, according to Ingram Digital COO Frank Daniels III.
“We worked with Microsoft in a variety of ways to support their evangelism of the usefulness of discovery, which we completely agreed with,” says Daniels. “There were lots of commonalities in the views of the world between Microsoft and Ingram, in which we thought that the more books that were discoverable on all different platforms, the more commercial publishers would be able to sell and the happier customers would be. We were thrilled to participate with Microsoft in that process.
“We weren’t part of Microsoft’s decision to change their business priorities,” Daniels continues. “They made a decision that their priorities around business and search needed to change. For them, the investment in a book search vertical was not as important as other many important things. … They love books; [however,] a book search vertical just did not make sense for their strategy. However, for us, it is our business. We’re all about helping book publishers achieve their goals.”
Daniels says that both Microsoft and Ingram are communicating with participating publishers to inform them of the transition. “We will send out a communication to publishers that will tell them how the process is going to work to return [their digital] files [to them],” he says. “We’re talking … tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of titles that need to be managed and pushed back out to 1,100 different publishers. So it’s a process that will take up to several months to get all the files returned and sorted in a way that they will not be lost. That’s the most important thing: … If the publisher wants to retrieve those files, we want to make sure that they’re available. So we’re managing that process. That’s the main thing we’re trying to do.”
“Another opportunity for Microsoft may be to focus on content areas that have potential for electronic salability, since the scans initally created for searchability are not necessarily of salable quality,” says Brenneman. “There is an opportunity for Microsoft, in partnership with Ingram of course, to increase the volume of truly salable e-book content.
Publishers may learn more about Ingram’s transition option at http://www.IngramDigital.com/index.php?option=com_idvnews&id=73