Last week, Google announced an opt-out policy for publishers who do not want copies of their books included in Google Print as well as a temporary suspension to their scanning of books still in copyright. For those who are unfamiliar with Google’s latest offering, let me offer an introduction.
When you enter a library or a bookstore, how do you find a book? If you know the specific book you are looking for, then the task is simple. Just head to the computer terminal and look up the location of the book by author or by title.
If you are just interested in a book on a particular subject, the task is more challenging. Of course, you can search for a book by subject or keyword; however, short of browsing through a number of books, you cannot immediately tell how in-depth a particular book will cover the specific topic you are interested in. The book may devote an entire chapter to the topic or just offer a sentence or two in passing.
This is where Google Print steps in. Google Print is a project between Google, several major libraries and publishers under which Google will scan books and make them full-text searchable from Google. From the Google Print home page, you should recognize the familiar Google interface.
For today’s demo, I’m going to see what different people have written about our friends at the OYEZ Project, which provides online audio recordings of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments. I enter oyez project into the search field and clicked on the Search Print button. This takes me to a results page with thumbnails of the book covers, the book title, author and a short excerpt where the search term was found.
When I click on the first title, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to teh Supreme Court, I’m prompted by a sign-in interface. You will need a Google Account to view the scanned pages from the book. After I signed in, Google Print then displays the scanned page where the search terms appear and highlights the search terms. There are two arrows at the top of the page that lets you browse through a couple of the surrounding pages.
I see Google Print as a great reference source for research projects. This may also be a competitive intelligence tool for seeing who has mentioned your law firm or the competition. A word of caution though. Google Print does include a number of books that allow full-text searches, but does not permit the user to view the scanned pages containing the search results. In such an instance, I’m not sure why Google bothers to include these books in the search results since the restricted results are of such limited use. If Google can scan all the books from a law library, this will be a major boon to research attorneys.