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Google Print Press Review & Just A Bit About Search Inside the Book

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Lot's of attention about Google Print in the press today. Here's a quick review, a few comments, and links basically to keep the discussion going.

(Via Searchblog) word of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt's, commentary in today's Wall Street Journal (sub. req) (or via the Google Blog) about the Google Print program.

Schmidt makes some interesting points and I'm glad that he took some space differentiting Google Print with the Google Library program.

A couple of very brief comments:

  • As I point out here, library card catalogs (aka OPACS) are more than plain old bibliographic info databases these days.
  • While he does differentiate Google Print from Google Library, he doesn't point out that Google Library users will only see "snippets" of their keywords in context (unless the material is in the public domain. According to the Google Library FAQ, Google is using 1922 as a benchmark date for books in copyright here in the U.S. Outside the U.S. dates might vary. You can get an idea with this screen cap. Also, Google Library material will have direct links to access the material from a library along with various online book providers. Two questions. Will people want to wait to get the book and/or will libraries be able to afford an increased amount of interlibrary loans? Of course, once "it's all" digitized, Google might be in place to work with publishers to sell downloadable electronic copies of books. Now there is a business!
  • For now, Google Libraries is a research tool in a general sense (it's also a tool to sell books) but not a research tool where the full text is available and users can print, annotate, etc like with , ebrary, etc.

Jefferson Graham's USA Today article, Google Print project inspires fans, fears, provides a first class and well-written overview that also mentions the new Yahoo/Internet Archive initiative. Good! Also, nega kudos to Graham for clearly explaining the Google Print/Google Library differences.

Google Print product manager Adam Smith says the biggest misconception is that Google's master plan is to display entire books online. "We don't have permission to do that," he says. "We're a finding tool, like a digital card catalog."

Note to Adam: Card catalogs are already digital and have been for myears. Again, while selected snippets from books would be useful, many library catalogs already provide access to non-bibliographic info like author bios, book covers, reviews, tables-of-contents, indexes, and more. The Library of Congress already has a bibliographic enhancement team.

What Harvard Library director Sidney Verba likes most about working with Google is the link next to search results that lets users know which library the book is available in, and the map on how to get there.
Yes Dr. Verba, that's cool. However, "new books" (via Google Print) will NOT have a link to find the item in a library according to the screen cap that Google makes available.

The one topic I wished Graham discussed was Amazon.com's superb "Search Inside the Book" (SITB) program that is very similar to Google Print (not Google Library). Not only does SITB provide searchable content from thousands of books but it also provides (in many cases) extra info about each title (concordances, reading level, and more). I've posted a brief overview of some of these SITB features here.

Btw, quick aside, John's new book "The Search" is accessible searchable via SITB but still not found in Google Print. The same is true for Google Power by our own Chris Sherman. Google Print lists neither of these titles.

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