Google has announced that it will stop updating its newspaper archiving project at news.google.com/newspapers. The company's ambitious effort to digitize the world's newspapers and make them available online is no more.

Google yesterday emailed its partners, including The Boston Phoenix, to announce that the program was coming to an end so that it could focus on "newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites." Google is giving the content it has already scanned back to its newspaper partners (and they can do with it whatever they please), but it won’t add that content to its news archive. Newspapers that have their own digital archives can still add material to Google's news archive via sitemaps, but the search giant will no longer spend its own money toward the cause.

"We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. These have included publications like the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995. Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at http://news.google.com/archivesearch, but we don’t plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing."

In September 2008, Google launched the Google News Archive project. The search giant has since scanned roughly 2,000 newspapers. Some newspapers complained that Google was quick at scanning their archives but slow to process the scans. They noted that only a fraction of the archives sent to the company made their way online.

It's not clear why Google has given up. It may be because the process may have turned out to be harder than the company had anticipated or the resulting pages drew fewer readers than the company had hope for, or both. Either way, while the search giant plans to support the existing archives it has scanned and indexed, it will not introduce any further features or functionality to the service. I never used it, did you?