Well Satya Nadella has just confirmed that Live Search Books and Academic are going down the drain. If you didn’t know, Live Search Books is a special search vertical for finding books (in/out of print) and viewing, searching, and even downloading inside them. Live Search Academic is a special search vertical to easily find scholarly articles, conference proceedings, theses, and other dissertations.
Now they’re going to be gone. I’m a bit surprised, because I thought Live Book and Academic were pretty great in quality, compared to Google Books and Scholar. Live’s were more simple and straightforward to use, clean, and the way you could view the results was nice.
Notes about Live Search Books (LSB) :
- LSB (search part) had two simple panes – Left pane for results, right pane to view brief overview of the book
- A result in LSB was viewable in two simple panes – Left pane contained simple book info. with a search box, and search results right under (search results came right into the box, without reloading page) as well as links to purchase online or find at a library. Right pane contained the book pages itself that you easily sift through.
- Search terms were highlighted green in the pages of the book (very easy to spot)
- Bar on the right visually contained the pages of (the particular section of) the book, and the green marks on the bar represented pages where the search term was found.
- Simple controls at the top part of the book reading pane included : Show full page, fit to page width, go to front cover, previous page, # of page (not a button), next page, and go to back cover. (Sometime the publisher might restrict the number of pages you can view by your Live ID account, and the number of pages remaining is on the very right)
- EVERY book had pages you could view. Whether it was all content, most pages, or even some pages, EVERY book had viewable pages. Google Books has MANY books that are NOT at all viewable.
- Either the book results pane or the book reading pane could be extended (although not the Overview panes in both parts, most likely because it was not as needed)
- Interface is more compact, clean and useful than Google Books. You could hover over results in Live’s and instantly get a preview. Very nice feature.
- Books that were out of print were fully downloadable
- NO advertisements (which might account for the downfall of LSB)
- Pages shown in FULL quality as the originally looked
- Faster loading – another surprise, but pages got unpixelated in a second or two
Notes about Google Books (GB):
- MANY books NOT fully viewable at all
- More search results indexed (though again, not many viewable as Live)
- Search terms were highlighted yellow (which can be difficult to find on pages yellowed with age)
- Controls somewhat similar to Live Books, but included a zooming tools (the archaic kind with a zoom in/zoom out buttons, not mouse wheel-scrollable, or simple zoom slider), snipping tool (nice, but could only send to Blogger/Google Notebook, though embedding via text/picture was fine enough), and viewable in dual-page format.
- Interface is more uglier, less intuitive, and rather bland – compared to that of LSB
- Text viewable in plain text – as in pages could be transcribed into a more readable but simple text
- Books divided into subjects/genres
- Bookmark books to a personal library
- Write reviews
- Pages NOT always shown in full quality as the original (take a look at one of my example screenshots)
- Pages do NOT load up very fast – page scrolling is very ‘bumpy’ when waiting to load
Well overall, I still think LSB wins in that it’s more flexible and most content could be viewable. Plus the interface is just plain better
Here’s some quick comparison screenshots:
Notes about Live Search Academic (LSA):
- Results shown in dual-pane format – Same style as LSB : Results are in the left pane, and the right pane contains all the info. about the result (that your cursor is hovering over at the moment)
- Filter by data type or detail – You can filter by data type like : relevance (default), frequency cited, oldest/newest, and group by author, journal, and conference. You can view by less, normal (default), or more detail.
- View the result info. by Abstract, Citation Export, and Cited By
- Abstract contains info. such as Title, Journal, Abstract, Author(s), Volume, Publisher, Source, DOI
- Export info. via BibTeX, RefWorks, or EndNote – Under the Citation Export section, you can export the result in those formats. RefWorks and EndNote have a link that directly goes to those sites.
- Cited By gives number of other works cited by users – As quoted from the LSA cite : "Cited by references are papers that cite, or reference, another paper. Looking at a paper’s cited by references can help you discover papers you might not have otherwise found via search alone."
- Results can be extended across the dual-pane – Instead of the dual-pane layout, you can click on the arrow to extend results view
- Advanced Search – With fields like : Keyword, Author, Data Range, and Journal Conference
- Result "hovering" brings up info. very fast
- NO advertisements (which again probably contributed to LSA and LSB shutting down)
Notes about Google Scholar (GS):
- NO result previews – Simply just links. Nothing much else.
- Higher index of results – Though doesn’t necessarily mean better
- Can only filter by most recentness
- View citations and related articles under each result
It’s a real no brainer : Live Search Academic wins for sure. Offers much more in this case. Another useful tools now gone. Here’s some screenshots comparing the two:
Overall, I think LSB and LSA could succeed if only Microsoft:
- Put some ads somewhere under the results page – Though I think advertisements littering the page would really ruin the search experience, MS and the publishing companies/libraries probably need some income to fund this project, and that could come through putting advertisements on the results page. There could be an option to hide the ads, so it won’t ruin your reading experience or anything, but at least MS can say that the user at least saw the ad. That would have helped
- Advertise on college campuses or at conferences – Why not actually advertise the usefulness of LSB and LSA on college campuses or where conferences take place? That could help win some popularity where LSA/LSB might matter most. These are the people that might be interested in such a tool.
- Get good partners and volunteers that want to help with the project – I think LSB is definitely a project, as in getting the time and manpower to digitize so many books page-by-page. MS could have made strong partnerships with these publishers and libraries to fund some of the ad revenues from LSB/LSA over to these people. That way everybody wins. Start up a volunteer project where people who love literary works can help digitize this content for more people around the world to be able to view. That would have helped expose LSA/LSB as more of a project, rather than just some corporate search vertical
I think LSB and LSA had more potential than what they are, and thinks it’s quite sad MS is giving up. From what it sounds like, MS is giving up because they don’t think they’re getting enough profit out of it, and they’re losing money trying to work with the digitization of books, and that not many people are interested in Books or Academic searching. Though I think focusing on a segment of the market that’s not fully developed would have been a great way to get Live Search rolling somewhere. Google already has everyone beat on the main verticals, so why not specialize somewhere else?