The Economist writes:
Most of the web has already been scanned and indexedthere are already between 8 billion and 10 billion items online. Although search technology is constantly tweaked to provide better performance and more relevant results, studies by Microsoft have shown that around half of all search queries fail to provide the information that users want. We need to get offline content online. Offline is where trusted content is, and where people who need to answer questions go, explains Danielle Tiedt, manager of search content acquisition at MSN. Books are only the first step, she says.
The cost of digitising a book can be as low as 10 cents per page, and as much as $100 per book if it is longer, oversized, or requires more effort (though for recent titles, digital files already exist). Business models to recoup the investment remain embryonic for now, but include paid advertisements at the bottom of a web page, charging a few cents to view a page and possibly subscription pricing.
But digitising and indexing books does more than shift printed material online: it permits the unbundling of content from the printed page and creates new access and sales opportunities.