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Google Print: A New Era For The Search Engine

While some may wonder what the next step for the search engine industry to take, Google may have already answered that question. Ever evolving, Google has their eyes set on the future with news of their newest innovation, Google Print. Not only will the search engine’s newest entity allow room for an exponential amount of growth, Google’s written word department may also open new avenues for search engine marketers to pursue.

Google is in preparation to one-day launch Google Print. How do you think this will impact the search engine industry? Does the idea of Google as a publishing entity sound appealing? Discuss at WebProWorld.

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The announcement of Google Print revealed the search engine would be “partnering” with five academic institutions in order to convert the public domain of their print libraries into a digital format that can then be indexed. According to the BBC, four of the five are prestigious universities including Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, and Michigan. The fifth institution to give Google access is the New York Public Library. Google hopes to have this digitized content available to the public by 2010.

A comment from the Harvard Gazette explains the university’s outlook for the project: “If the pilot is deemed successful, Harvard will explore a long-term program with Google through which the vast majority of the University’s library books would be digitized and included in Google’s searchable database. Google will bear the direct costs of digitization in the pilot project.

By combining the skills and library collections of Harvard University with the innovative search skills and capacity of Google, a long-term program has the potential to create an important public good.”

While the goal for Google Print is explained on their about page: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Since a lot of the world’s information isn’t yet online, we’re helping to get it there. Google Print puts the content of books where you can find it most easily – right in Google search results.”

Although Google Print is in the pilot stage, the future looks promising. The possibilities of having these incredible libraries literally at one’s fingertips is staggering. No longer will research original text from literary masterpieces considered a daunting task. A few simple keywords will alleviate the majority of the legwork. While this may come across as common knowledge, John Battelle also give another reason to be optimistic about Google’s newest endeavor, “this move clearly puts Google in the category of innovator when it comes to adding information to their index.”

However, the very reason John gave for his optimism also led him to have some interesting thoughts:

“Google’s job was not to build the web, its job was to organize it and make it accessible to us… But all this new Print material, well, it’s never been on the web before. It’s Google who is actively bringing it to us. How, therefore, does Google rank it, make it visible, surface it, and..importantly…monetize it? If a philanthropist were to drop the entire contents of the Library of Congress onto the web, Google would ultimately index it, and as folks linked to the content, that content would rise and fall as a natural extension of everything else on the web. But in this case, Google itself is adding content to the web, and is itself surfacing the content based on keywords we enter. This is a new role – one of active creator, rather than passive indexer.”

Undoubtedly, Google Print does redefine the role the search engine has been playing since its inception. No longer will Google by merely indexing the web; they will be adding vast amounts of content as well.

John also mentioned the monetize-ation of Google’s upcoming feature. This is another area that Google Print may help energize: search engine marketing. Although Google Print isn’t going to be available for some time, once launched, the amount of search engine real estate available for advertising will increase a great deal. This dwindling space has become an issue to some marketing experts. John also introduces other avenues that Google may be able to monetize, breaking their dependence on advertising revenue, an issue that was noted in their IPO filing, “it’s a very short distance between that and, say, an affiliate link to Amazon or any other booksellers for a cut of an in copyright sale. It’s also a very short route to the on demand publishing of an out of print and out of copyright book with a company that is set up to do such a deal…” Google the publisher? To quote the guys from the Guinness commercial, BRILLANT!

However, with every new innovation, there are potential pitfalls that can be encountered. A couple of conversations deal with some of these. Like non-destructive scanning; no doubt a priority from these academic pillars. There are also rumblings of how the American Library Association will react. But, we have quite a bit of time until the problems become reality. Of course, if Google can’t meet the expected launch window, these rumblings will grow ever louder…

Comment on this article in WebProWorld.

Chris Richardson

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