Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Google Magazines

Taken with permission from TechnologyNomad.com

Google Books, a digitized library of print materials, has quite a few magazines available in addition to all their other high quality offerings. I remember reading that publishers can choose whether they provide free access to back issues via Google Book Search, or use it to draw traffic to pay-to-view archives, so we assume the same goes for magazines. That said, all of the searches we tried led to free-access page images.

Life Magazine on Google Books
Although there hasn’t been a whole lot of publicity on this, Google books began adding full text magazines. They have digitized at least 100 magazines from cover to cover, showing us the ads, pictures and articles. In addition to the historic aspect, they are really interesting and fun to look through. By digitizing every page, it is almost like going to the Periodicals stacks on the second floor of a library and flipping through them right there on the shelves.

Amongst their digitized work are back issues of many (mostly popular) magazines. Specifically, in September, 2009 Google announced the availability of over 1,860 issues of the iconic LIFE Magazine on Google Books. Every issue of Life Magazine from its debut in November, 1936 to the end of 1972 is available via Google Books. You can browse the cover of each issue and search the text of articles.

As of recent, the entire archives (137 years) of Popular Science is also now accessible, searchable, and free via the PopSci web site.

A few days ago, I learned that Google's magazine archive has expanded with 40 years of digitized content available from IDG Publishing (Free).
With the project, readers can now access issues of CIO, CSO, InfoWorld and Network World dating back to the 1970s. The pages of the publications—including advertisements—have been scanned and digitized, and are available in a searchable archive on Google Books. Additionally, some microfilm issues of Computerworld have been posted and are available on the Google News Archive. “The real value of this project to IDG is in having the content of our enterprise IT publications—going back decades—preserved for all time and accessible to researchers and historians around the world,” Matt Smith, senior VP-COO of IDG Enterprise, said in a statement.
Here's the media release from IDG.

Another popular magazine out on Google Books is SPIN Magazine. "Flippin'" through it is sure to get a giggle or two at what was once considered cool from the 1980s. The contemporary cultural and political articles – as well as exciting fashions featured in the ads of decades gone are now available for perusal from any web browser. You can also browse through archives of New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Weekly World News, Jet, and even Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Years available will vary, but this is a wonderful resource for those looking for 20th century popular culture, and well worth a quick search or an extended browse. Don't forget to check out the LIFE Photo Archive while you're at it!

Ancestry announced in January, 2010 that the magazine would be discontinued, so how great it is now to have access to all the issues they’ve done! This is a great model for any other publishers/organizations that may be discontinuing.

Use the "Magazine" link on the Google Books home page to get to this material. Here's a page on Google Books that lets you browse the available magazine titles. You can also use the Advanced Interface and limit to only magazines and/or publisher.

As Google's official blog adequately puts it "In many cases, these magazines aren't just history as history, but history as perspective — a way of understanding today." If print ever dies, at least there should be a digital copy of all of this history on Google.  ▣

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