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Books on the DS, Magazines on Google

google-magazines.jpgGoogle’s library is growing.  In addition to serving as the card catalog for the ever-changing mass of digital content on the net, the search giant’s archived rare books and snagged Life Magazine’s photo catalog. They’re also now playing host to a collection of magazine back issues – full spreads, not just links.  

So far, Google has quietly made copies of more than one million articles.    According to a company blog, this is part of a broader initiative to bring more magazine archives and current stock online.  According to Google financials, it may serve another purpose too.

About the Magazine Project

Initially the magazines can only be found and surfed through Google’s Book Search pages.  Eventually, inclusion into the general Google index is expected.

As with the Life photo archive, Google is hosting the magazine content.  The scans are shown in single, or facing-page spreads with controls that allow readers to zoom in or out for magnification.  The issues seem to range from a few years old to decades passed.

Revenues generated from sponsored links placed in the “east column” on the right side of the display screens are expected to be shared between Google and the publishers.

Several publishers are experimenting with the service as early participants.   Bonnier Corporations’ “Popular Science” title is represented as are, Hearst’s “Popular Mechanics,” JPC’s “Jet,” Lakeside Publishing’s “Baseball Digest," and New York Media’s “New York Magazine.” 

(Unconfirmed rumors hint that some Time Inc. imprints might be considering participating in the project too.  Helping fuel these may be Time’s partnership with Google on the Life Magazine image library).

The Financial Incentive
While the process of archiving content meshes well with Google’s publicly declared mission of organizing the world’s information, it may also be serving another less noticeable goal: revenue diversification. 

Partner Site Revenue Contribution
Q3 2008   30%
Q2 2008   31%
Q1 2008   33%
Q4 2007   34%
Q3 2007   34%
Q2 2007   35%
Q1 2007   37%
Q4 2006   37%
Q3 2006   39%
Q2 2006   41%
Q1 2006   41%

Review of Google financials shows that over the past few years, the company’s been steadily decreasing their reliance on revenue generated at partner owned sites.  In Q1 2006, for example, 41% of revenue came from partner sites.  In Q3 of this year, the partner contribution ($1.68b) was down to just 30% of total revenues.  (The table shows the successive adjustments).

Hosting content – whether magazines, books or photo catalogs – seems like one of the many tools Google’s using to continue the shift toward greater revenue self-reliance .

In other curious news for avid readers….

Nintendo has decided to explore the digital book market. 

nintendo-ds-reads.jpgExpanding on user hacks that have allowed eBooks to be read as text files, this week, the video game company announced a deal with News Corp. to make a collection of classic titles from their Harper Collins label available formatted explicitly for the DS portable.

The “100 Classic Book Collection” will be sold for the DS starting Dec. 26.  It will be available, at least initially, only in the UK.

Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader, don’t  have any reason to be concerned about the competition.  Despite the millions of DS units already in the wild, the portable game player’s design and screen size are no threat to the low glare e-ink screens on dedicated readers. Like a past pilot program that experimented with using the DS as a platform for enhancing services at ballparks, the DS-as-reader concept is more of a live focus group to test new market opportunities for the platform.

Even so, it’s an interesting demonstration of how different forms of digital content are converging.  It also shows Nintendo’s continued commitment to expanding both their audience and the application of gaming technology.

Related Articles from Metue
Google Grabs Life Images (and Europeana Library Gets a New Launch Date)
Harvard and Google Disagree on Book Search
Google Book Search Copyright Suit Settled
Flickr to host Library of Congress Photos
No New Kindles in ’08, New Displays in ’09?
Amazon Kindle: the quick take review
Microstock Photo: How User Generated Content is Reshaping the Photo World
Corbis Joins Microstock with Snap Village Launch
Amazon Archiving Rare Books
Google vs Microsoft: Racing to Sign up the World’s Libraries
Check out a Book from the Internet Library
Bring Your Glove and DS: Nintendo takes Gaming to the Ballpark


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