The Death of Live.Com Book Search

Simon noted last year the sources available for legal researchers on Microsoft’s book search.

However, an announcement on Microsoft’s blog on Friday indicated that the project is over and that this field has now been yielded entirely to Google. For the record here is the announcement.

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.


  1. This was also discussed on last night’s episode of Uncontrolled Vocabulary, the library industry talkshow podcast. The first question was whether anyone had used this tool. There was also some agreement with the ars technica write-up that this is “good for the future of books”.

  2. Well I was sceptical too, until I had a multinational third party opinion to draft and couldn’t find the late Michael Gruson’s standard work on Legal Opinions in Multinational Transactions easily accessible. Through a combination of Google Books, Book Search, and Amazon Look Inside the Book, I was able to consult the precise pages I needed and get the answer for the client. Couldn’t have printed or copied (except for a screen capture). But this is a good legal research tool.