Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2007 Issue

Microsoft's Book Search Reflects Pitched Battle With Google

Live

Microsoft's Live Search Books matches are easy to follow.


By Michael Stillman

There is a huge battle for internet dominance going on behind the scenes, and while this is not generally a subject for an antiquarian book site, it is showing up even in our field of play. In a strange reversal of roles, Microsoft is the upstart company, while Google is the dominant power. You may not have even noticed it, as Microsoft seems to be making a stealth attack (although Google surely hasn't missed it). Quietly, with surprisingly little fanfare, Microsoft has been building services similar to those offered by Google. Among them is the one appropriate to our field -- book search. A little under a year ago, Microsoft offered its version (still in beta) of an inside the book type of search -- Live Search Books. This is Microsoft's equivalent to Google Book Search. And if much of this seems ripped off from Google (could it be a Microsoft product if it were not copied from someone else?), it compares quite favorably to Google's offering. A few things are better, a few not as good, and much is similar.

Before we look specifically at the book searches, here is a quick note on what Microsoft has been up to in a most quiet way. Microsoft traditionally offered its search engine as part of its web portal, MSN.com. In other words, internet search was provided among a host of other features, especially the latest news. This is similar to the format built most successfully by Yahoo. Meanwhile, Google was rapidly becoming the leading internet search site through a page that featured search only, a stark page with a search box and not much else. Google's search-only format came to dominate internet search, leaving the internet portal search approach in the dust.

Microsoft has never been one to ignore another's successful formula, so it developed its own stark, search only site -- Live Search. If you go to www.live.com, you will find a search page that looks amazingly like -- surprise -- Google. Not only is the plain search box similar, but above it are an almost identical set of secondary links: "web," "images" "news," "maps" and "more." The only one missing from Google's list, naturally enough, is Gmail, for which Microsoft has substituted MSN. It may not be original, but it certainly is a proven formula. The issue for Microsoft is how do you pull users away from Google by offering essentially the same thing? The answer is not clear, especially since they are not doing much promotion. In the past, they have bundled their versions of software with their dominant computer operating system (Windows), but that got them into legal hot water. Perhaps they will again attempt a similar approach, or will try to reinvent the wheel in a superior model. One thing is clear -- they are not about to concede the internet to Google, no matter how large a lead the latter has built up.

Now it's time to look at Microsoft's Live Search Books. Just as to find Google's Book Search you go to the Google home page and click on "more," you go to the Live.com home page and click on "more." There you will find "Books." To compare Live with Google, I searched for "Richard Mentor Johnson," Martin Van Buren's vice-president. He is significant enough to appear in many books, but sufficiently obscure not to appear in too many. The initial results appear a massive victory, at least in terms of quantity, for Google: 617 matches vs. 61 for Microsoft. However, this reflects a different approach, along with a head start, for Google.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000

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