Google Tackles Magazine Archives

Google Book Search: Popular Mechanics Jan 1905 Cover ImageAs has been reported around the web today, Google is now digitizing and adding magazines to Google Book Search. This follows on the tails of the recent Google Life Photo archive announcement.

I took a look around to see what I could see. I was intrigued by the fact that I couldn’t see a list of all the magazines in their collection. So I went after the information the hard way and kept reloading the Google Book Search home page until I didn’t see any new titles displayed in their highlighted magazine section. This is what I came up with, roughly grouped by general topic groupings.

Science and technology:

Lifestyle and city themed:

African American:

  • Ebony Jr!: May 1973 through October 1985
  • Jet: November 1961 through October 2008
  • Black Digest: Named ‘Negro Digest’ from November 1961 through April 1970, then Black Digest from May 1970 through April 1976.

Health, nutrition and organic:

  • Women’s Health and Men’s Health: January 2006 through present. I found it very amusing to be able to scan the covers of all the issues so easily – true for all of these magazines of course, but funny to see cover after cover of almost identically clad men and women exercising.
  • Prevention: January 2006 through the present
  • Better Nutrition: January 1999 through December 2004
  • Organic Gardening: November 2005 to the present
  • Vegetarian Times: March1981 through November 2004

Sports and the outdoors:

They of course promise more magazines on the way, so if you are reading this long after mid December 2008  I would assume there are more magazines and more issues available now. I hope that they make it easier to browse just magazines. Once they have a broader array of titles – how neat would it be to build a virtual news stand for a specific week in history? Shouldn’t be hard – they have all the metadata and cover images they need.

I love being able to read the magazine – advertising and all. They display the covers in batches by decade or 5 year period depending on the number of issues. I also like the Google map provided on each magazines ‘about’ page that shows ‘Places mentioned in this magazine’ and easily links you directly to the article that mentions the location marked on the map.

I think it is interesting that Google went with more of a PDF single scrolling model rather than an interface that mimics turning pages. In many issues (maybe all?) they have hot-linked the table of contents so that you can scroll down to that section instantly. You can also search within the magazine, though from my short experiments it seems that only the articles are text indexed and the advertisements are not.

Google’s current model for search is to return results for magazines mixed in with books in Google Book Search results – but they do let you limit your results to only magazines from their Advanced Search page within Google Book Search. See these results for a quick search on sunscreen in magazines.

Overall I mark this as a really nice step forward in access to old magazines. As with many visualizations, seeing the about page for any of these magazines made me ask myself new questions.  It will be interesting to see how many magazines sign on to be included and how the interface evolves.

To read more about Google’s foray into magazine digitization and search take a look at:

For a really nice analysis of the information that Google provides on the magazine pages see Search Engine Land’s Google Book Search Puts Magazines Online.

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Posted on 10th December 2008
Under: access, digitization, future-proofing, historical research, information visualization, interface design, journalism, search | 12 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

12 Responses to “Google Tackles Magazine Archives”

  1. Creaginator Says:

    Pretty cool isn’t it? This is downright amazing. As I’ve mentioned, this is an enormous boon to education and society at large.

  2. jaremy Says:

    there is no even a single sector in which google is absent.
    google is going to be god or evil within few 5 or 6 years.
    i think google will become good for layman.

  3. pieman Says:

    Unfortunately the magazine search includes only the magazines scanned as part of this deal with publishers and none of the out of copyright magazines Google had already scanned under their deal with libraries.

  4. Jeanne Says:

    Good point. Do you know where those out of copyright magazines are in the Google landscape? How do you get to them? I would love to see a sample link to one of them.

  5. Jorn Barger Says:

    Also these?

    The Alcalde
    Black Belt
    Black World
    Bulletin
    Dwell
    Liberty Magazine
    Mother Jones Magazine
    Running Times

  6. DCPL LABS » Blog Archive » Find and Read Magazines with Google Books Says:

    […] the many of the magazines you can read, you’ll find Jet, New York Magazine, , and Popular […]

  7. Jorn Barger Says:

    Another batch via http://delicious.com/librarygrrrl :

    Backpacker
    Best Life
    Building Systems
    Collector’s Guide
    Ebony
    Log Home Design
    Log Home Design Ideas
    Log Home Living
    Mac Life
    Timber Home Living
    Windows Vista

  8. Mmm, Donuts! » Blog Archive » Google Books takes on magazines Says:

    […] http://www.spellboundblog.com/2008/12/10/google-tackles-magazine-archives/ […]

  9. Seeing the picture » Blog Archive » Google Magazines - Titles Says:

    […] peoples’ lists of titles in Google Magazines: Jeanne Kramer-Smyth (listed by subject categories) ; Thomas Gruber (comments in […]

  10. The New Internet Eclectic | The Internet Eclectic Says:

    […] Magazine Archive: Popular Science, New York Magazine, Ebony, et al. Spellbound and Thomas Gruber have compiled a starting list of […]

  11. Mike Says:

    Do you have an upto date list available?

  12. Michae Says:

    I’m amazed how recent some of these titles are. But after looking through Jet magazines archives I’m realizing how much changes in 5 years!

    Perhaps Google is feeling a little more bold as magazine’s are losing readership, and probably lack the legal funding to take on huge litigation. Thanks for this awesome resource.

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