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A (Non-controversial) Alternative to Google Print

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Google Print has stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy, but another company has been offering online book search capabilities, with the blessings of publishers, for years.

ebrary has been around since 1999. The company offers numerous services including one that lets you search and read over 20,000 in-copyright books for free. You pay only to print and copy text.

ebrary, like other services (NetLibrary, Books24x7, Safari Tech books spend a great deal of time marketing their services for licensing by libraries and the enterprise market. ebrary is no different and its fully featured search technology is very cool and powerful.

What makes these and other services different than Amazon's Search Inside the Book and Google Print is that they allow the user to read, annotate and print (in some cases) the full text of books. In most cases these are new, in-copyright books, that can be full text searched.

Shop ebrary

ebrary also offers Shop ebrary, a little known service that allows anyone to access and read (online) over 20,000 books from major publishers, sheet music titles and reports. Full text online access from Shop ebrary content is free. You pay only for what you print or copy.

It's easy. Simply follow these steps to run a search at Shop Ebrary:

Create a ebrary Shop account. You'll need a credit card and will have to deposit a minimum of $5 if you decide to print or copy content.

Next, download and install the ebrary Reader for Windows. Then, simply login and start searching the 20,00O+ books.

In addition to simple search, an advanced interface allows you to search specific fields like title, subject and language. Plenty of search syntax is also available including a proximity operator. You can even set-up a virtual bookshelf.

I ran a search for [Jupiter and Saturn”, and got 670 results.

The results page shows title, a cover image (if available) and basic bibliographic info. You can sort results by relevance, title, contributor and date.

When you select a title, it's free to view the full text and typically $0.25 a page to copy and $0.25 per page to print. Prices vary by title.

That's about it. Your search terms are highlighted and you can highlight any text you choose. You can also add notes and bookmark specific sections of the book.

Shop ebrary is a very useful full text book search database that's also an example of things to come. Shop ebrary is a great place to get your feet wet while reading lots of interesting material.

To learn more about ebrary and its leadership, take a look at this interview with Christopher Warnock the founder and CEO of the company. Here's another chat with Warnock.

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