MSN Search Will Do Book Search

    October 26, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Microsoft’s online service will join Yahoo and others in supporting the Open Content Alliance and launch MSN Book Search.

Microsoft announced it will start its book search efforts by working with the Internet Archive. Together they will digitize public domain books to make them searchable. After that, MSN plans to integrate other offline content into the program:

The digitized content will primarily be print material that has not been copyrighted, and Microsoft will clearly respect all copyrights and work with each partner providing the information to work out mutually agreeable protections for copyrights.

MSN claims internal research at Microsoft has determined more than 50 percent of people’s questions go unanswered by search engines. By making offline content available via Book Search, MSN believes more questions can be answered.

“By combining our deep software investments in advanced reading technologies, productivity- and community-based applications, such as MSN Messenger, and new capabilities in the Windows platform will combine to make a powerful book search experience that will help people access new information and interact with it in entirely new ways,” said Christopher Payne, corporate vp of MSN Search.

Microsoft’s GM of Search Content Acquisitions, Danielle Tiedt, told Search Engine Watch that Microsoft has committed itself to fund the scanning of 150,000 digitized books. Also, Microsoft wants to scan in-copyright books similar to what Google Print is doing.

It’s not just books that would get the digitization treatment. Content from periodicals and academic publishers could be part of the program too. Tiedt told SEW a way in-copyright material could be presented might be pay-per-chapter or page, or even a monthly subscription.

The first part of MSN Book Search, focused on public domain content, will be available in early 2006. By late 2006, in-copyright and other offline content should begin coming available.

Microsoft still has to work out a business model, and avoid the legal minefield that Google has found itself in with Google Print. Should they be able to make the various content providers happy, MSN Book Search would be in position to exceed the promise of programs like Google Scholar and Yahoo Subscriptions.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.