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Book search winding down

Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes.

This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.

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, this past Wednesday 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. 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. 

As we wind down Live Search Books, we are reaching out to participating publishers and libraries. We are encouraging libraries to build on the platform we developed with Kirtas, the Internet Archive, CCS, and others to create digital archives available to library users and search engines. 

In partnership with Ingram Digital Group, we are also reaching out to participating publishers with information about new marketing and sales opportunities designed to help them derive ongoing benefits from their participation in the Live Search Books Publisher Program.  

We have learned a tremendous amount from our experience and believe this decision, while a hard one, can serve as a catalyst for more sustainable strategies. To that end, we intend to provide publishers with digital copies of their scanned books. We are also removing our contractual restrictions placed on the digitized library content and making the scanning equipment available to our digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs. We hope that our investments will help increase the discoverability of all the valuable content that resides in the world of books and scholarly publications.

Satya Nadella
Senior vice president search, portal and advertising


  • Funny but this is first time when i hear about book search.

    And now you close it.

  • Let's think:

    Google:  searches books.

    Live:  does not search books.

    Which one am I going to visit when I want to enter one query and find everything there is to find?

    Way to build something great and then throw it away because you can't figure out how to monetize it.

  • Anon -

    Perhaps you should read the article, cause your comment is pretty ignorant about what was said.

  • Well, I am certainly going to miss this service.  

    Not only did I prefer some aspects of the interface over Google Book Search, but Live Book Search also completely trumped GBS by offering searchable PDFs for download.

    What's worse, this will probably make it so much more difficult for Open Library to compete with Google (especially after recent dealings between OCLC and Google).

    Good thing that America likes to route for the underdog (or at least it used to).

  • What's more, I love how they say that "[b]ooks and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes."  (Certainly, the popular fad of people talking about "information silos" has gone way too far.)

    That's great.  After a quick glance, I don't even see how they are integrated presently at all.  Secondly, they make it sound as if that's easy!!!

    Who wouldn't love to search through 1 million results of websites with poorly written content for a couple thousand books which you may or may not be able to see in their entirety?  Whereas Google, on the other hand, has taken the opposite and workable approach of integrating their "about this book" pages with search results.  That, at least, makes sense and can help people out.

    Granted, I hope that this announcement doesn't reveal Microsoft's full strategy (if any of it at all).

  • As microsoft said, book digitization is best left performed by libraries.

    Book digitization has become very affordable these days.

    Tools like V-shaped book scanners (e.g. BookDrive DIY enable even small schools or local libraries to have the same scanning capability like those done by Google or Microsoft.

  • Okay. no more Live books. :(  I miss Live Books. Sad day...

    Hmm... Let's see. Okay...

    I have strange idea for live search. Why don't Microsoft make pay program for entrepreneurs to innovate LIVE API?

    All users must use Microsoft Ads; must have power to compete Google & Yahoo search; cannot use no more than $1,000 for startup or Venture Capital. It's almost like X-Prize.

    The winner get $1 million dollars; License rights, microsoft live engineers, legal, future IPO filing or Acquisition, etc..

    second place get $500,000 dollars

    third place get $80,000 dollars

    Fourth place $10,000 dollars for startup research

  • This to me is a good move on Microsoft side.

    It shows the definitive strategical shift which Microsoft has long been expected to make. Instead of competing with Google in every aspect of search game, they now turn to focus on attacking the profitable part of Google's business.

  • Some would think that digitization is as simple as buying some cheap camera stand and firing away. Not so easy when you realize the dedicated resources needed for managing content and organizing it all so that it is fully searchable.

    I'm guessing that whoever has the best way of integrating all this into one complete package will emerge the eventual winner.

    Microsoft no doubt gave a few of its partners a good head start-- no its up to them to get with the libraries and continuing to provide digital access...

  • This decision actually makes a lot of sense. As I understand it, the argument is that a search engine (like should do what search engines were meant to do: just crawl content instead of crawl AND host content. Microsoft is suggesting that publishers and libraries <i>themselves</i> would have access to technology that would enable them to host their own books instead of having host the books. would still crawl though these publisher-hosted books. This decision enables to focus on search by getting out of the hosting business (not to mention copyright battles). But if their technology is picked up by someone like Ingram and many book publishers, will continue to search these books all the same. While on the surface this decision may appear as a failure and a sign of weakness, I actually see it as a clever curveball thrown at Google.

  • Yet another failure. Good job guys.

  • Those of you who "think this makes a lot of sense" are probably not aware that academic publishers and libraries don't exactly have scads of time and money to throw at digitizing their content. They're usually pretty busy doing what they normally do to earn a living. For Microsoft, this type of this is a drop in the bucket in terms of resources, but from a money-making perspective it obviously doesn't fit into their picture.

  • Academic libraries should get to scanning their stuff if they want to have a brighter future. Digitization of rare bound content can literally free books lost in the stacks or sitting lonely on some locked and dusty shelf. Anyone who thinks that libraries are too busy or too limited in resources to even attempt this are short sighted in the extreme.

  • Live Search Books is like PlaysForSure.  PFS became PlayNoMore.  LSB become Dead Dearch Books.

    Can anyone at the Redmond Slagheap understand that fielding a group of mediocre products which are poorly conceived, poorly designed, poorly manufactured, poorly marketed and (finally) poorly supported leads one to believe that MSFT starts to stink like a 21st century version of General Motors: incapable of producing anything but second (or more precisely third or fourth) rate junk.

    Loo at Vista, Spot, WinMobile, Zune, Xbox, PlaysforSure, LiveSearch, etc.

    Each and every one is a third class entry on which shareholder money was wasted.

    Ballmer and Bach should resign.

  • Ha! What a surprise. MS blindly copies Google, then gets sick of it after a couple of years and shuts it down, letting down anyone who trusted it in the process.

    Great stuff MS. Without the Windows and Office cash cows, you'd be out of business long ago. Never had an original idea - and can't even copy your competitors properly!

    May as well "wind down" Live Search in its entirety, no-one's ever going to use it anyway, better to get it over and done with...