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Industry Insight

Finding Real Magazines on Google

Finding Real Magazines on Google Book Search Is this the shot heard around the world for the printed magazine business?

By Bob Sacks
Published: December 10, 2008

Finding Real Magazines on Google Book Search

Is this the shot heard around the world for the printed magazine business? Google has announced a new program that will deliver back issues of magazines to the internet public at large. Take it from me this is huge. It is not the beginning, but rather the verification of the beginning of the digital edition age of the magazine era.

Today, we're announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony. Are you a baseball history fanatic?

Over time, as we scan more articles, you'll see more and more magazines appear in Google Book Search results. Eventually, we'll also begin blending magazine results into our main Google.com search results, so you may begin finding magazines you didn't even know you were looking for. For now you can restrict your search to magazines we've scanned by trying an advanced search.

For years, we've worked to make as much information as possible accessible online, whether that information comes from books, newspapers, or images. We think that bringing more magazines online is one more important step toward our long-standing goal of providing access to all the world's information.

It is now only a matter of how the industry handles and monetizes this “advancement in delivery”, and not whether we wish to or not. It is already here! What are you going to do about it?



By Brian Regan on Dec 10, 2008

Interesting... Think of all the content available, all the SEO value to the publishers. Sort of like high quality blogs from the past made searchable.

Do publishers reprint past editions? If not, then what does it effect?


By Michael Josefowicz on Dec 10, 2008

Nice point about SEO.

It would be a very neat, inexpensive way for publishers to identify who reads their stuff. That can turn into all kinds of actionable intelligence to reach those readers with other stuff they would probably want to buy.


By Keith Stoner on Dec 10, 2008

So why would I buy a magazine if it's going to just show up on Google for free in a few weeks? Besides Google, who is going to make money from this? Think of all the trees we will save :-)


By Michael Josefowicz on Dec 10, 2008

I would buy a magazine mostly if I needed to read something on the subway. Besides who wants to wait a few weeks? By then I will have forgotten I want it.

And besides, if it's a fashion magazine, I want to spend time looking at all the ads..or if it's a design magazine, I want to be able to get a big version, say a 12 by 18 double page spread, that I can mull over with a cup of coffee...

Plus I can read the magazine, NOT sitting in fron the 'puter. I can scan it on the couch in front of the TV, sitting near my wife.


By Eric Vessels on Dec 10, 2008

I agree with Brian that repurposing magazine content online wouldn't really affect wanting to read current editions in print - at least not for me. Newspapers are a different story. I guess it's immediacy of content versus the aesthetic. I don't care what format news information is in as long as it works to inform me quickly, but I still like to see magazine content in print. I also think it's easier to maintain a relationship with a given magazine based on design as well as content.

Wired and Portfolio are my two favorites and I don't see getting them exclusively in a digital format anytime soon. Maybe that will change at some point, but for now I want to grab them from my desk or carry them with me and peruse at will.


By Brian Regan on Dec 11, 2008

I think it could be a money maker for the publishers actually. If they wrap appropriate advertisement around the content it could be a nice way to reuse past information with the pluses of additional cash flow.


By George Alexander on Dec 11, 2008

In Google's existing Book Search capability (just books), if the user clicks on a hit, Google returns a page about the book (where you can read the hit in context, plus a few pages forward and back) and places ads (presumably relevant) alongside it. Google shares the resulting click-through revenue with the publisher.

I assume this would work the same way with magazine pages that are added to Book Search, which would open up an entirely new revenue source for magazine publishers.


By Rob on Dec 12, 2008

You're assuming the digital editions are 1) read and 2) readers go to Google to find magazine content? Also, Google could give a crap if this stuff is read there, all they want is the click on the contextual ad so they make money and the publisher makes pennies per click. Publishers also need to review the T&Cs of their agreement with Google, which loves to use this data/content in other places without publishers really understanding the implications.

Digital editions would have been a nice precursor to content on Web sites. Me, I'll take the print or the publisher's Web page any day.


By Michael Josefowicz on Dec 12, 2008

The issue is not reading. The issue is search.

If magazine content comes up in search, the conversation has begun. The publisher learns which words are interesting, when the person showed up, where the IP number lives, how long they stayed. If the publisher focuses on the information gained, they can use that information to sell more stuff.

Besides most magazines are not read, they are scanned. The print version allows someone to use their brain to search. Google uses words and an algorithm to search.

Turns out that a magazine is a much easier way to search for new things. You don't have to depend on finding the exactly right words. You can use stuff in your head that doesn't have a word attached to it.


By Rob on Dec 12, 2008

Michael, so Google is going to hand all this data over to a publisher? Come on... no chance. They want it all!

We collect all of this information on our site and use it as you suggest. You helped my argument by saying the issue is not "reading." If it isn't, why would a publisher give Google all of this data in exchange for pennies on a ad click!


By Michael Josefowicz on Dec 12, 2008

I don't know if Google is going to hand over anything..on the other hand they might sell it at some reasonable price.

The "data" the magazine is giving - the words that compose the article - has no other use. If it has no use, it has no value. So whatever they make from the long tail goes straight to the bottom line. So . . .what's the downside for the publisher?

Meanwhile by making it accessible on the web, it's "a try it before you buy it" situation. I have to believe that could be more effective in getting readers that lots of "buy this magazine" direct mail.


By Henry Freedman on Dec 15, 2008

Such publishing in some circumstances to be legal would require a copyright royalty accounting system assuming author approves republishing. Some publishing contracts allow magazines to publish story but no other secondary or electronic uses. If such occur they would be in breach of authors agreement and IP copyrights. So Google may be similarly vulnerable as a copy shop systematically reproducing printed copywritten works without permission.

A copyright royalty accounting system would
raise privacy issues as well.

So courts amd time will tell.


By emanprinting on Dec 29, 2008

magazine content online wouldn’t really affect wanting to read current editions in print - at least not for me. Newspapers are a different story.
a magazine if it’s going to just show up on Google for free in a few weeks


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