GOOGLE AND PUBLISHERS: assessing the impact of the Googlesphere
Google and the world of information publishing
Google?s mission statement indicates that it wants to ?organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful?. This allows Google to deflect publisher suspicion about its current and future role in the information industry by protesting that it is simply helping users find the information they need and helping information providers receive more willing users.
The claim would be true if all publishers were simply creating high quality content and finding buyers of that content. However, so much of the publishing market revolves around adding value through structure, context, metadata, search and workflow integration - the content can regularly be of low intrinsic value, often free from other sources.
The growing position of Google as a gateway for the retrieval of all kinds of information throws up an unsettling level of uncertainty about who will hold the customer relationship and where the balance of power will lie for publishers in a networked world.
Google Products and Services
EPS has mapped and described all of Google?s offerings, tying together related ones.
Google Scholar is an interesting combination of opportunities and threats for publishers in this sector.
For navigational databases of scholarly content such as Scopus and ISI Web of Knowledge, there is a chance that Google Scholar will become ?just good enough? for less experienced users and even for experienced users operating outside their usual frame of reference. At the same time the launch of Google Scholar may raise the profile of navigational databases of scholarly content, presenting opportunities to the big players to engage brand new users.
Most likely, Google Scholar will prove a useful new source of traffic to journals publisher sites, with potential extra revenues from pay-per-view options and improved brands leading to author retention and capture.
As books and PDFs sent in by publishers, and now books from vast library collections, are both being added into the Google Print database, the owners of the content are beginning to fret about what might happen to their books in the hands of Google. Currently Google allows handy but not devastatingly useful searches across book content, with the proviso that many publishers have chosen to block user access to a large proportion of scanned-in pages. There are potentially worrying implications for aggregators of book, journal and news materials for academic library use. As use of Google Print grows and the database expands, it has the potential to become a powerful competitor to Thomson Gale, ProQuest, EBSCO and others.
Google News is helping to drive a gradual change in the way news is consumed. Most commentators now agree that alongside Yahoo! and MSN, Google is one factor in the gradual decline in print newspaper circulation. The choice that Google News offers is beginning to educate consumers to get their news in snippets from a large number of providers.
For aggregators of premium news sources and press cuttings agencies, there is the chance that Google News could prove just good enough for the lowest rung of subscribers, allowing them to approximate more expensive services through their own searching.
By licensing Yellow Pages data, adding in web site information about businesses from their own indexes, and developing slick new interfaces, Google and Yahoo! are able to produce local business search services that are a real improvement on online YP offerings. While data is still being licensed this is a reasonably good relationship for YP providers. But how strong is their value-add and couldn?t the online players find a way round licensing in the future?
What can publishers do?
It?s all about ramping up the value that can be built around the core content. Getting under the s