Google’s online book service, Google Books, which allows users to read certain books, has added some new features to make these scanned texts more web friendly.
Generally, when you enter a book name into Google’s search engine, the relevant Google Books link will pop up, with the option to read a few pages before finding out where the book can bought, or in the case of the US, what nearby libraries have it.
However, the text itself is scanned and fairly static, but Google has now added some new improvements to make it more searchable and sociable.
A new toolbar option allows for embedding a Google Books preview in your blog or website in the same way that one snippet of code allows for embedding of YouTube videos, while the URL of the exact page you are reading can be easily grabbed and emailed or instant messaged.
Browsing for books and magazines has become a lot more user friendly also: with a drop-down menu of index results, as well as thumbnail image previews of all of the books pages at a glance.
For the visually impaired, Google Books has been rendered more user friendly (scanned books are converted from Optical Character recognition) with a plain text conversion button for better viewing, but also for text-to-speech software.
The neatest feature, one that Google perhaps hopes will drive researchers, teachers and students to its service, is the improved overview page, with more detailed information on reviews, ratings, summaries, related books, key words and phrases, references from the web, places mentioned in the book and publisher information.
By Marie Boran