Google Book preview

By now you’re surely familiar with Google Book Search, the project to digitize and display millions of books, which began in 2004. You’ve doubtless noticed that ordinary Google searches now turn up results from books, so that a student’s search for “Silas Marner” will point her not just to Wikipedia, but to the text and page images of the book itself on http://books.google.com. You may even have heard that Google recently settled a lawsuit brought by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over whether the search company had the right to scan in-copyright material and display parts of such material in search results.

It is our delightful task, however, to tell you about something we’re guessing you haven’t heard of: Google Book Search previews. You can now use Google Book Search’s “Preview Wizard” to generate a little virtual book that will fit in a small square of your web page or blog. All you need is the book’s ISBN number, access to your web site’s underlying code, and the courage to copy and paste snippets of JavaScript. (If you have a WordPress blog, use Design and Widgets to insert the code; if you have a Blogger.com blog, use Layout and Edit HTML.) By default, what appears is a picture of the book’s cover with clickable arrows that let you page back and forth in the book, though you might want to choose other display options. Some books will grant you access to the full text, while others will give you only a few pages or chapters, but in both cases this widget is a great way to encourage your screen-dazed students toward books.

It’s also worth noting that libraries, bookstores, and book-oriented sites are taking advantage of the same technology on a larger scale; Google Book Search previews are available from the websites of WorldCat, LibraryThing, GoodReads, Books-a-Million, and many more. Happy reading (online)! — AMANDA FRENCH

Google Book Search Preview Wizard

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