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

Join the conversation

  1. Anonymous

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

    And now you close it.

  2. Anonymous

    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.

  3. Anonymous

    Anon –

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

  4. Anonymous

    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).

  5. Anonymous

    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).

  6. Anonymous

    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.

  7. Anonymous

    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

  8. Anonymous

    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.

  9. Anonymous

    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…

  10. Anonymous

    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.

  11. Anonymous

    Yet another failure. Good job guys.

  12. Anonymous

    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.

  13. Anonymous

    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.

  14. Anonymous

    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.

  15. Anonymous

    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…

  16. Anonymous

    That’s too bad. I actually liked Live Book Search. The interface was pretty snappy, pleasant-looking, and I liked the way it handled books.

    I also have to admit that Academic Search was also profoundly better than what Google offered. More simple and straightforward, quite a surprise considering Google is noted for having that habit.

    I hope this means it will still be just as easy to quickly find published content from these libraries/publishers within the Live Search results. Having LBS as a central place for scholastic content would have been great, and you guys could have used adCenter ads to share profits with amongst Microsoft and the library/publishers, as well as starting to catalog e-books, offering subscription service, and so-on.

    Instead, that won’t ever happen. Quite sad really.

  17. Anonymous

    @Jeremy W : Stop posting on MS-related blogs, if you don’t like MS. Obviously no matter what MS does, there will be something to complain about.

    @hk : You’re an idiot! Isn’t that amazing? Not to mention that Live Book and Academic Search still beats the pants off of Google Books and Google Scholar.

    Oh, and did you know Google STOLE content from publishers without their permission? At least Microsoft asked. Google’s still doing it, but will opt-out if asked. So much for do no evil.

    I, and more than 10% use it. And maybe even more as soon as the Y! deal is really over with.

  18. Anonymous

    Who is going to host the books already scanned?  Will the books already scanned still be available?  Also if Mr Softy is not going to host the material will it be available for all search engines yahoo and all the web etc?

    Are the other institutions that scan material going to upload the new material onto a ms site or host it themselves and is this going to be available through live search books or other search engines or both?

    In eliminating the separate indexes will it still be possible to use live search and restrict the results to books and scholarly publications already scanned or does the searcher have to weed through all web pages.

  19. Anonymous

    Don’t worry, as google was doing a better job anyway.

  20. Anonymous

    "focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers"

    That makes sense in the short term, but you will loose more and more users to the competition. Not that Microsoft can afford this…

    @Quikboy: How does live book search beat google’s search when they have switched it off? And academic search does not work in firefox 3 and also not in Opera, so its unusable in Ubuntu 8.04. So, you are saying two unusable services are better than two working onces. Yeah. Stop posting on MS-related blogs if you like MS no matter what they do.

  21. Anonymous

    Another competition between google and microsoft…

  22. Anonymous

    I’d like to suggest, in addition to the BookDrive DIY that Sarasin recommended that there are several other options for scanners that libraries can purchase to digitize their own books. A more serious option for large libraries is the Kirtas Technologies book scanner APT 2400 ( It is known for its ability to scan books in pretty bad condition without destroying them. It’s almost fully automated and has a similar software package that you can purchase through the company to create pdfs out of the images that are produced.  Another perk for smaller libraries or collectors who don’t wish to do the work themselves is that Kirtas has a Service Bureau facility where books can be sent, digitized and returned with the digital files. I hope that people are still interested in digitizing books, even though Microsoft decided against it. There are some pretty amazing ones that are definitely worth preserving!

  23. Anonymous


    I sure gonna miss it. The academic search has been off for a long while now. I did like the layout/format it had.


  24. Anonymous

    "… to focus on verticals with high commercial intent…"

    In other words, if we can’t make money on it, to heck with it.

  25. Anonymous

    As I see it, Microsoft is not making as much money as they used to (in part due to Mac getting more of the market share than previously). So what do they cut? The things that aren’t making much money.

    If Microsoft can’t afford to do the digitizing, why should they expect libraries (which budgets are cut annually) to be able to afford it, just because it’s less expensive than previously?

  26. Anonymous

    That’s my luck. I’ve just submitted my books to your program. I hope you will reinstall Live Search. But your intentions were good.


  27. Anonymous

    I understand it from a business point of view. But I doubt that with normal spidering the web you can determine what is good quality and what is not. By scanning you selected the best content and now other articles will be included as well.

  28. Anonymous

    This is a well-calculated move on M’s part. Corporate companies should not poke their nose in everything. Digital libraries should be left with academic organisations with lots of experience and least commercial intent. Again, competion for ompetition’s sake is not good and this is what happened with Live Book Search. Besides, it had been offfering poor interface and badly-patched services. Hope Google will  learn a lesson from this. On the other hand, I will hail any attempt on Ms’s part to provide free websites for academic journals, where it can pst ads.

  29. Anonymous

    Too bad. Live Search had a number of books Google didn’t have. Though, the ability to download was chancey and the actual webpage to read the books were rather annoying. Oh well.

  30. Anonymous

    I really do not mind the loss of Live Search as it never was that great.  The loss is in the books that will never get scanned because libraries have to pick and choose what they can afford to preserve this way.

    Luckly, 90% of the books scanned and was found in Live Search are still available from The Internet Archives in an easy to search format.

  31. Anonymous

    This is disappointing. One less reason to use Live Search.

  32. Anonymous

    If Microsoft want to make money from digitised books, then they should charge for it.  Live Search was useful and in some ways better than the competition,

    " 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"

    Perhaps the author of this blog could write in English. Vertical is not a noun and as such cannot have an intent.

    I wasn’t aware that Microsoft carried any advertising.

  33. Anonymous

    Hey, I know!  Let’s all get the Microsoft tattoo on our foreheads!

    The loss to humanity – the billions of under-fed, under-educated that could benefit from this trivial investment merely belies Bill Gates’ ‘philanthropic’ intent.

    Hey Satan, I got ya ‘vertical intent’ right here!

  34. Anonymous

    A suggestion of course anonymous and obviously written by themselves to use kirtas technologies is comical –  this tiny and horribly managed company near Rochester NY is one of the reasons the MS book search project failed, for poor quality, late production, stupid excuses, and a very dictatorial lying CEO who drives people away.  It would be crazy to bring book digitizing projects to kirtas because the company is just a dependent on MS.  It is now instantly unviable and besides their machine is ridiculously expensive and it doesn’t work very well in truth.  

  35. Anonymous

    Really hate to see Live Book Search throw in the towel. Leaves Google with little reason to stay on top of its program. Competition is good, if Microsoft had competition just image what Windows could be today…. least what you now have.

  36. Anonymous

    @martinus : Live Books Search is still running at this moment I’m posting. They haven’t take it down yet, but they will.

    And Live Books Search works in IE and Firefox, according to message I got viewing in Opera. And if you use Ubuntu, well you should know what things wouldn’t work in the Linux world.

    And according to what I see, they’re still working. And they’re better than Google Books and Scholar. Google does better at some stuff, I admit, but I think Live did it better in this area. Just because you can’t witness it on Ubuntu doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    And I don’t love everything MS does. I criticize them a lot, like in my comment about dumb mistakes like this. I love how your website has practically the word Linux or Ubuntu in every post. Maybe you shouldn’t post in MS-related blogs. At least my points were right against those 2 nitwits.

  37. Anonymous

    that’s too bad news for researcher and librarian, but i hope that Microsoft continue it’s projects in academic and scientific searching in web, i, as an librarian, think the new age of searching in web will focus in Scientific and collaboration between scholars and researchers,



  38. Anonymous

    Steve, a poster above, perhaps embittered because of a bad employment experience was trying to make excuses for the failure of this Microsoft endeavor by blaming one of the vendors, LOL! This guy has "lone wacko" type issues!!

    Vehement, vengeful posts aside, I think this decision could be good for all parties involved. I never could have imagined some respectable universities like Yale would have ever lowered themselves to take Microsoft’s offer seriously in the first place. Its more natural this way.

    There’s plenty of grant money out there to be had. I think every library should buy some scanning equipment, set up a digitization department and scan their rare material and make it available. If nothing else, it would create a few more interesting jobs in the country.

  39. Anonymous

    disappointing news?

    all tha microsoft does since windows 95 disappointed me =(

  40. Anonymous

    Oh man…and I really liked it :(

  41. Anonymous

    What a sad end to a wonderful research and knowledge tool.

  42. Anonymous

    Anybody knows where else all those indexed books are now available for search & download, since MicroSoft has closed this one?

    I was in the middle of a complex research and this source vanished under my mouse, like this: "poof"!…

  43. Anonymous

    Yes. This sucks. I had bookmarked a few books that I was using for research, but now they’ve disappeared … apparently not yet "integrated" into "search results" …

  44. Anonymous

    That is very bad really, i am researcher from a third world

    country your live search is the best intiative ever done

    form microsoft, it is even better than google book search

    and now you are closing. This is a very sad day for

    human being and science in genarl nad more specific

    to those young researchres from third world country.

    Keep up your money ond don’t care about people.

    I hate you too much.

    Microsoft and Bill Gates are rich, what do you want more

    do something useful just once as a change.

    To the hell with your search engine.

  45. Anonymous

    You are trying to buy Yahoo and improve your position and you eliminate two inovative search initiatives. Doesn’t make sense. What was the cost to buy Yahoo? If it was worth that much why wasn’t this worth a tiny fraction of that?

  46. Anonymous for all your book needs.

    The only thing that Live had that was of interest anyway was the public domain stuff.

  47. Anonymous

    As an author, I am deeply disappointed by Microsoft’s abandonment of the Live Search program. The added visibility programs like this give to authors in a crowded marketplace (TV, Movies, internet, magazines, and oh yeah… books) will be missed.

  48. Anonymous

    oh man I just signed up last night.I hope this is not an omen for easy free access to information and books.I was going to save some money on gas ,not having to go to the library.I downloaded some old books from the 1920"s I’ve been looking for, for years last night.It reminds me of a one night stand I had down in Peru….it was too good to be true also!

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