In theory, I love the idea of Google indexing all of the newspaper content it can. And if that can help create a revenue stream for publishers, this is good, too.
It seems like a monumental task, but Google is going to try.
For smaller publishers, I think it’s going to be hard to join in the fun. First, electronic archives for most newspaper publishers only go back a few years. Second, there isn’t much ROI in digitizing old microfilm. On the other hand, there is a lot of content that could potentially be exposed to Google’s crawl, if publishers will do it.
I’m wondering, who gets paid, though: If the publisher makes its content available, and Lexus-Nexis does the same — which search result wins?
What would be really helpful is if Google offered free hosting of archives for smaller publishers (storing and effectively searching large databases of articles is expensive and somewhat difficult (right now) for smaller publishers, but it is cheap and easy for Google).
BTW: Here’s the value of comments on stories: When it works, it leads to more valuable information. In the case of the BW story above, a lone comment helped me learn about Congoo, an aggregator of premium content that makes paid archives available for free. It’s a toolbar, which isn’t ideal, and when you hit their home page you get assaulted by unrequested audio, but I gave the search a try and it shows promise. It’s far from complete, even in the publications it has deals with, and the search algorithm seems a little basic, but at least its an attempt to solve the problem of making one-time access to archives available.
UPDATE: When I posted this, I didn’t realize the Google archive search
It’s pretty good. Content availability is spotty, but it does include
some paid content (such as Editor and Publisher). I do think it makes
a company like Congoo somewhat unnecessary — if paid content through
Google’s search remains free. But then, is that what publishers want?