Google today announced the launch of a new service on Google News that will archive newspaper pages exactly as they originally appeared in print. According to the post, Google is partnering with newspaper publishers to enhance its archive search with actual pages from the publications, which creates a PDF-like reading experience. Neither details about revenue-sharing nor a list of partner newspapers was released.
Google has previously worked with the New York Times and Washington Post to digitize their archives. It has also worked with publishers to digitize and index massive amounts of books through Google Book Search.
With this new service, Google is capitalizing on the weakness of most newspaper sites’ archives and search functions, a move similar to when Google launched the automatic search box and navigation links that appear when searching the name of a popular web site (Ex. search “New York Times” and the first result will have a search box underneath, which bypasses the site’s own search with Google’s) . Older content on newspaper sites is notoriously difficult to find.
The newspaper industry’s slowness to create usable, comprehensive and open archives is often the result of several factors:
-Skepticism that increased advertising revenue from open archives will be greater than the tangible revenue gained from paid archives.
-Being locked into existing contracts with archiving firms.
-Lack of desire to invest in a massive archive digitization effort.
If Google is successful in its endeavor, it will have created the most comprehensive archive of historical news content on earth. It also means that Google will venture even deeper into the media business by becoming a host for content that traditionally would have been found on individual news sites. The move highlights yet another way in which the shortcomings of news companies’ online efforts are bearing ripe fruit for tech-savvy aggregators and search engines.
[Hat tip to Etan Horowitz for the heads up.]