Google’s Book Search
The New Yorker today looks at the history of Google’s Book Search project. The response to the project has been very mixed. While some publishers and writers love it, others have voiced strong arguments against it. Techdirt sums up the problems with the project, though I have a slightly different, very subjective take on this.
My own perspective is highly colored by the simple fact that Google’s Book Search has become an invaluable tool for my own work. Because I reference a lot of edition of eleventh and twelfth century documents, most of which were published in the 19th century, I can get my hands on full-text, searchable documents that I would have to get through Interlibrary Loan (if there is a library willing to lend an 1850s editon!) or actually spend a few hours driving to make a copy. Now I can download a pdf.
Even if the book is not available in full-text right there, the ability to search through the books has pointed my work in directions I had never thought of before. Traditional keyword references that you find in library catalogs and article databases are just not as good as a full-text search through an enormous library.