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“Hundreds of Titles,” “Dozens of Publishers”—Magazines Going Into Google Book Search
Posted On December 18, 2008
As Google Book Search turns more and more into what might be better named "Google Library" (or even "Everyone’s Library"), it has expanded to include magazines. Hundreds of titles are already available, according to Google representatives. Despite requests, they have not yet decided to provide a titles list, though this journalist urged them to do so, if only to satisfy the librarian community. However, the articles will carry a "Magazine" tag, which users can search in the Advanced Search mode. Magazines will come into Google Book Search ( from the Publisher partner side of the service rather than from Library partners, with Google offering free digitization. Some of the magazine content in Google Book Search will come from other Google interfaces (e.g., Google News Archive) and some from the main Google service (e.g., TIME magazine).

Google expanded its digitization offer to publishers earlier this year when it announced it would digitize—for free—newspapers that were willing to share their archives through Google News Archive. (See the NewsBreak "Google Digitization Initiative to Expand Google News Archive," Sept. 15, 2008, Now, the digitization extends to magazine publishers. The new offer will bring in magazines such as Popular Mechanics, Ebony, New York Magazine, CIO, Men’s Health, Jet, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, etc. Many of the magazines have archives dating back decades.

Imagery on the magazine content should be better than other Google Book Search content. Jim Gerber, director of content partnerships at Google, explained that many of the publishers would be shipping hard copies of their magazine archives to Google, where sheet-fed scanners would perform the digitization. As Gerber explains, all the scanning done with library partners uses nondestructive scanning, of course. "It’s good," says Gerber, "but not as good as sheet fed." He pointed out that using both types of scanning will result in improvements to all scans, particularly in developing bibliographic data from the digitization process. "We are doing things at the back end to clean and improve bibliographic data, so over time we will get better bibliographic information."

With the current magazine initiative, users will be able to see articles in full color, browse/page through an issue, or even "Browse all issues" of a magazine. Go to the Advanced Search page (, enter your search terms, click the "Magazines" option for limiting "Content," and your search results will all come with the word "Magazine" preceding the bibliographic citation. If you know the ISSN, you can limit results to that magazine alone.

Periodicals are not completely new to Google Book Search. As the Google digitizing teams rolled through university library shelves, they picked up a lot of bound periodicals interfiled with books in the stacks. There was no distinction made for these "bookish" journals. While full-text searching is available, you do not get the article citation retrieval. If you encounter a journal old enough (pre-1923) to receive full-image display and want a specific article bibliographic citation, you have to search and browse to assemble it. However, a Google Book Search product manager explained that the journal content already in the service was getting a Google Scholar article citation treatment. Gerber says that it would be a while before they added the "Magazine" tag to the journals.

Not all the magazines coming from publishers involve submitting a hard copy. In some cases, according to Gerber, the publisher will send graphic images (TIFF, GIF, etc.), which Google will then crawl. In some cases, the publisher has already made a full archive available on its own website, e.g., TIME magazine ( In these cases, Gerber explained, the main Google service has already crawled and indexed the source. Content of the leading news magazine was then ported into Google News Archive and, now, into Google Book Search. The magazines being digitized by Google will all go into the appropriate Google interfaces, including the main Google service ( Gerber expected that "over a short time, we will be integrating in both directions, so wherever the users are we can make sure they get the information they want." He expects that, in time, all Google Book Search content will be accessible through the main service.

Who’s paying for all this? Advertisers. Sponsored links appear alongside the page images. Gerber pointed out that ads can also appear next to publisher-supplied books. One interesting note for marketing researchers: Google’s indexing of the magazines picks up text wherever it sees it—including in ads. So if you’re looking for the history of product advertisements in popular press outlets, you have a new source to tap.

And, speaking of money, who gets the payments? Gerber indicated that publishers take a major share of advertising revenue. When asked whether the Google Book Search lawsuit settlement would influence the magazines, he said it wouldn’t. When asked whether the Tasini and National Geographic legal actions could affect legitimacy of publisher-supplied magazine archives, he said it wouldn’t. Verifying that opinion, Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and one of the architects of the Google Book Search settlement, confirmed that the 201(c) privilege in the Copyright Act should cover the full periodical version as a collected revision of a previous work.

This is just the beginning. Gerber expects many more publishers and many more titles to be coming their way. "Most magazines don’t do a huge business in selling archives," says Gerber, "so they’re thrilled to get online, ad-supported and visible, to build their brand on the web and get incremental ad revenue." However, for those magazines entrenched behind a firewall, demanding "Halt! Who goes there?" registration, "Identify Friend or Foe" subscription proofs, or even "Show me your wallet" pay-per-item, Google still has that content in its sights. Gerber negotiated the deals that led to the pay-per-item content options for content currently in Google News Archive.

However, libraries may constitute a breach in the firewalls. Though Gerber was unaware of how "Find in a Library" checks of OCLC’s OpenWorldCat might serve to connect library collections with magazines, Chip Nilges, OCLC vice president of new services, thought it absolutely would. Nilges says, "We would love to have that linked and it will definitely be a topic for a future talk."

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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