Since book search is all the rage these days I want to spend a few minutes talking in-depth about a service I've mentioned in the past but didn't really describe in detail. The service is called ebrary that has been around since 1999. ebrary 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 their 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, print (in some cases) the full text of the book. In most cases these are new, in-copyright books, that can be full text searched.
ebrary also offers a little known service that allows those without access to a library subscription 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 and/or copy.
It's that easy.
In many respects it sounds very similar to what Amazon.com has planned with their new Amazon Pages and Amazon Upgrade programs that will launch next year and perhaps what Danny just blogged.
So, let's take a closer look and run a search at Shop Ebrary.
+ Create a ebrary Shop account
+ You'll need a credit card and have to put a minimum of $5 if you decide to print or copy content.
+ You'll also have to download and install the ebrary
+ Next, login and start searching the 20,00O+ books
+ A simple search box exists as well as an advanced interface that 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].
The results page shows title, a cover image (if possible) and basic bibliographic info. You can sort results by relevance, title, contributor and date.
Now, select a title. THe book I select is published by Cambridge University Press. You'll also see
that it's FREE to view the full text and $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. Of course, the full power and collection of titles is available to library subscribers. Nevertheless, Shop ebrary is a great place to get your feet wet while reading lots of interesting material.
Postscript: Books24x7 and Safari offer subscriptions to individuals.