Google Seems to Be into Real Publishing

September 9, 2011

A couple of years ago I wrote my final monograph for Infonortics Ltd., a publisher which is based in the UK. Frankly I was tired of Google and wanted to do some poking into more interesting topics. I had material for several chapters about Google’s aspirations to be a force in rich media, which is where “real” publishing seems to be going. I took my cue from Google when it started to cut back on white papers and old fashioned text for the breezy, often content light videos about things Google. I chopped the video stuff from Google: The Digital Gutenberg and focused on content. Much in that three year old monograph is still relevant. I think Infonortics is still selling the monograph, but royalties have stopped flowing. Maybe Infonortics has quietly shut down. Who knows? Last Web address I had was

The point is that Google is now a publisher. I assume from my redoubt in a land much enamored of cabbage that “Google Buys Zagat — Restaurant Ratings To Bolster Yelp Killer And Groupon Killer” is accurate. What strikes me is that Google is catering (no pun intended) to those who eat out. In some families, eating out is not an every day event. But Google needs reviews and other types of content. Publishers may hit pay dirt if the Google acquisition machine pulls in their parking lot.

What caught my attention was not the purchase of Zagat. I wrote about Google as a next generation publisher years ago. Nope. The novel point in the write up for me is the use of the word “killer”. Most services don’t kill other services. My hunch is that the deal space is struggling with or without Google and its doppelganger Amazon. I also think the ratings sector is going to find some bare spots in the ski run.

If Google does get into the “killing” business, I think that even docile, charitable attorneys will have to think new thoughts about Google as the next best thing to a go round with Cornelius Vanderbilt about steamship and railroad rights. My view is that hooking “Google” and “kill” may do some semantic damage to the Google.

But traffic is important, so maybe the purchase of a long in the tooth, quirky source of food guidance for the person with a job or solid billability is an attention grabber. My view is that this is interesting but not significant news. For more on the “digital Gutenberg”, chase down a copy of my monograph from 2008.

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2011

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