News Analysis: When Google launched its Google Fast Flip service for digitizing the way people read newspapers and magazines Sept. 15, it was a jarring reminder that the future of publishing, or at least the way we consume content is changing.
Web pages with publishers' articles are rendered on the Fast Flip page, where users can click on them to begin reading. Users may also scroll through scores of articles simply by clicking the mouse on up, down or side-to-side arrows.
In an hour of testing, it was fast, efficient and akin to a microfiche. It was limited to 39 publications at launch, including The new York Times, Business Week and TechCrunch.
Then I forgot about Fast Flip, and I assumed most everyone else did, too. I haven't returned to the Google Labs experiment since the day I covered it and don't know anyone else who has. It's not that it wasn't a good service, I just don't yet have a use for it.
So it was a small surprise that Google Dec. 16 said that it had expanded its Fast Flip purview to nearly 90 titles after reaching agreements with publishers representing more than 50 newspapers, magazines, Web publications, news wires, and TV and radio broadcasters.
New partners include include Tribune Co. newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, McClatchy Company newspapers such as the Miami Herald and the Kansas City Star, the Huffington Post, Popular Science, Reuters, Public Radio International, and U.S. News & World Report.
It's not enough that Google is indexing the world's out-of-print books through its controversial Google Book Search program, or that Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook virtualize the print book reading experience on a handheld device, or that we can similarly read books from our Apple iPhones or Motorola Droid smartphones.
Fast Flip lets us read magazines and newspapers from our computers and smartphones. The mobile version of Fast Flip lets users access the service through iPhones and Android-based smartphones. This means no print publication is sacred in the new digital world.