Besides search, Google does (a lot of) publishing (in many formats and different media) and Google enables people, organizations, institutions, companies (and even traditional publishers) to create publications.
'Matt Hickey on Magazines' shows a 'Google pMagazine' on CrunchGear
and links it with a patent filed in May 2006 by Google ... more
It is, it was the first time I hear about such a patent. It was granted to Google on November 8, 2007.
The patent paper spells out the dilemma print publishers are in and "don't want to get out". For me understanding "the Google's" and traditional Publishers must answer the same question, is there a good reason (in the eyes of the reader) to publish in print, if so, do it ... if not, don't.
From Michael Arrington on TechCrunch (sorry Michael, for the extensive quote)
An interesting patent was granted to Google on November 8, titled 'Customization of Content and Advertisements in Publications.'
Filed May 2006 the patent spells out the problems [and solutions] publishers have:
"Consumers may purchase a variety of publications in various forms, e.g., print form (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, etc.), electronic form (e.g., electronic newspapers, electronic books ('e-Books'), electronic magazines, etc.), etc. The publishers define the content of such publications, and advertisers define which advertisements (ads) may be seen in the publications. Since consumers have no control over publication content or advertisements, they may purchase a publication that contains at least some content and advertisements that may be of no interest to them.
Publishers often lack insight into the profiles of consumers who purchase their publications, and, accordingly, miss out on subscription and advertisement revenue due to a lack of personalized content and advertisements. Likewise, consumer targeting for advertisers is limited, and there is virtually no standardization for ad sizes (e.g., an ad that is supposed to be a full page may need to be reduced in size to fit within a publication). Accordingly, advertisers sometimes purchase sub-optimal or worthless ad space in an attempt to reach their target markets. Advertisers also have difficulty identifying new prospective market segments to target because they have limited insight into the desires and reactions of consumers. "
"…the customer interface documents may be provided via a kiosk. For example, kiosks containing the customer interface documents may be provided in stores (e.g., Target, supermarkets, retail stores, etc.) in a similar way as picture kiosks are currently provided in such stores."