Google announces today the LIFE collection in Google Image Search. Google will be digitizing all 10 million of the archived photos, drawings and etchings over the next few months, with 20% of the collection already available.
Although Life was originally founded in 1883, its photo archive includes images dating back to the 1750s, some of which have been donated to the Life archive. The Google digital archive is searchable, but the results are also “blended” into Image and other Google Search results. Older results, of course, are most likely in the public domain, as Google Blogoscoped notes.
Each image features a landing page with technical and caption information, including dates and the names of the photographers and even the subjects (in some cases). On the landing page, you can rate each photo with 1-5 stars.
But here’s what Life gets out of it: in addition to offering high-res versions of the pictures online, Google will also feature a link to purchase prints of these photos as “high-quality framed prints” from Life (Google’s blog announcement of the partnership even plugs this as a “holiday gift possibilit[y]“—and if you’re interested, they start at $80).
With the recent YouTube Click-to-Buy and Google Book Search deal, this looks like another step in Google’s quest to organize the world’s information—and make a few affiliate bucks doing it. I’m very excited to get the chance to look through these pictures (I’m a history buff, especially 20th century American history), but I’m probably not going to be ordering any prints any time soon.
What do you think? Does this constitute a new direction in Google monetization?