You've probably heard of Amazon Books, but are you aware of Google Books?
We’ve been talking about libraries of free images, now we’re going to introduce you to a library of free digitized books.
Since 2004, Google has partnered with libraries and publishers around the world to preserve books and make the information accessible to people everywhere. To date there are more than 40 million titles scanned.
How does this benefit you?
You now have access to searching the full text of all books and magazines that Google has scanned. These include many out of print books from the libraries of University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, The New York Public Library, and Oxford University.
This is valuable to researchers, genealogists and anyone searching for trivia questions! Simply go to https://books.google.com and start searching.
How are the books scanned?
Traditional scanning equipment uses a glass plate that completely flattens each page, ensuring that OCR (optical character recognition) software is able to identify the letters and numbers printed on the pages being digitized. Once scanned, those characters can be edited and searched with a computer.
To eliminate the need for glass plates and reduce the possibility of damage to the books it wants to preserve, Google patented a new book scanning process. Workers simply place the book on an open book scanner that has neither a glass plate nor any other equipment that would flatten a book. Google’s advanced software scans the book and accounts for curvature of the pages, meaning there’s no degradation of character recognition. The scanners work at a rate of about 1,000 pages per hour.
Questions answered by Google:
- What libraries are you working with?
We’re currently working with the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, The New York Public Library, and Oxford University to include their collections in Google Books and, like a card catalog, show users information about the book plus a few snippets – a few sentences of their search term in context. Users search the full text of these books to find ones that interest them and learn where to buy or borrow them.
- How are Library Project books displayed?
When you click on a search result for a book, you’ll see the Snippet View which, like a card catalog, shows you information about the book plus a few snippets – a few sentences of your search term in context. You may also see the Sample Pages View if the publisher or author has given us permission or the Full Book View if the book is out of copyright. In all cases, you’ll see ‘Buy this Book’ links that lead directly to online bookstores where you can buy the book.
- Why can’t I read an entire Library Project book online?
Google Books is designed to help you discover books, not read them from start to finish. We want to make it easier for users to find and buy books while protecting the rights of copyright holders. So when you find a book that is still under copyright, you’ll see the Snippet View which, like a card catalog, shows you information about the book plus a few snippets – a few sentences of your search term in context. However, there are some books that are out of copyright which means we can display the full book in the Full Book View. See some examples here.
- How do you determine if a book is in the public domain and therefore out of copyright?
For users in the U.S., Google Books currently treats all books published after 1922 as protected by copyright, except for books to which no copyright was ever attached, such as books authored by the U.S. government. For users outside the U.S., we make determinations based on appropriate local law. As with all of our decisions related to the Google Books content, we’re conservative in our reading of both copyright law and the known facts surrounding a particular book. If we don’t know for sure, you’ll see the Snippet View which, like a card catalog, shows you information about the book plus a few snippets – a few sentences of your search term in context.
- Do Google or the library profit when I buy a book?
No, we do not. On Google Books pages we offer links to popular booksellers where you can buy the book and, in the case of out of print books, we offer links to used booksellers. These sites don’t pay to have their links included, nor does Google or any library receive money if you buy a book from one of these retailers.
- Does Google display ads on library books?
No, there are currently no ads on library books. Please take a look at the Google Book Search Screenshots page or view the screenshots on the right of this page to see how we display books we scanned through our Library Project.
- What about other efforts to digitize books?
Google Books is our contribution to a diverse body of digital library developments. Our project isn’t intended to replace or discourage funding for the efforts of others working to digitize library collections. We hope that our entry into this arena will attract needed attention to digital library initiatives worldwide.
- Will scanning hurt the library books?
No, it won’t. We’ve developed innovative technology to scan the contents of books without harming them in any way. We won’t scan any book that our library partners deem too fragile, and once we’ve scanned any book, it will promptly be returned to the library collection.
- What about books in other languages?
We want Google Books to encompass books from all the world’s nations, languages and cultures. All of the prestigious libraries we’re working with have books in many different languages, and we aren’t limiting our scanning to English-language books.
- How can I get my library involved?
We may expand our program to include special collections from libraries both in the U.S. and other countries. If you want to let us know about your library’s special collection, please email us and include the size of your collection, any specialization or unique content, how much of your content is already digital, and what languages it includes.
- Does Google track the books I read?