Google Books

Google – a virtual synonym for search engine – has seen tremendous growth in a range of online applications and services it offers to its users. With an aim to organize the world’s information and to make this vast amount of information universally accessible, Google has ventured into the area of books by launching Google Book Search. This is a search engine where users can type in a keyword and as a result, get to see the the book titles and specific page snippets where that word occurred. Though all the books can not be read fully due to copyright issues, nonetheless its a great effort the enables users to search inside books without having to actually visit a library. Let’s see what this project is about and what users can do with it:

Google has scanned thousands of book and digitized their text such that it becomes search-able. User keywords are highlighted in search results, relevant pages of books are displayed on the screen along with a few lines above and below the keyword’s presence. This allows users to make sense out of the search result and see if the results are really what was required. Renowned libraries and a large number of publishers have partnered with Google to make their collections and books ‘discoverable’ over Google. There are also plans of making out-of-print books available for sale, and providing institutional subscriptions to organizations (such as universities) which can then allow their readers (students) full and free access. Users can add books to their online library account, write reviews and share their libraries with other users. If a book is available at an online store, its name and price is displayed along with search results. Advanced search over Google Books allows users to select copyright level of the books to be searched. This includes full view, limited preview and all books (i.e. both full and limited). Full view books can be browsed online without any restriction, while limited preview may allow viewing few pages only. In addition, books can be searched for specific keywords in title, author, publisher, subject, ISBN and even range of dates in which the book was published using the advanced search option.

Google Books project includes books as well as magazines. Sony has also partnered with Google to provide half a million free books for its electronic book reading gadget called Reader Digital Book. On the legal side, Google has settled a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers through an agreement reached in late 2008. The agreement is awaiting court’s approval after which not only the authors would get compensation and control over their works, but would also help expanding the market of copyrighted books by allowing them to be purchased online. All in all, Google Book Search is a massive project that lets user search full text of about 7 million books. This makes it a wonderful tool for students, researchers and those looking for some free classics such as Aesop’s Fables.