January 14th, 2009 | Published in Google Books
In 2001, we launched Google Catalog Search as a demonstration of a new technology (called OCR if you're interested) that made it possible to search the full text of hundreds and soon thousands of product catalogs. In fact, we scanned them all ourselves in a small room (I think it might have been a closet actually) in one of our first buildings here in Mountain View. This was our first big effort to make offline information available online -- and we learned a lot.
For the Book Search team, Google Catalog Search is close to our hearts. Catalogs helped us better understand and refine the technology we use today to scan and make the full text of books available online. We also learned more about how users read scanned documents online, and how to best present this type of information to them.
It was a great experiment. Nonetheless, in recent years, Catalog Search hasn't been as popular as some of our other products. So tomorrow, we're bidding it a fond farewell and focusing our efforts to bring more and more types of offline information such as magazines, newspapers and of course, books, online.