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Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Jacso Reviews Google Book Search and Discusses Amazon Search Inside the Book

For the past many years, we've linked to Dr. Peter Jacso's review(s) of various electronic resources. For those of you who don't know Dr. Jacso, he is library educator at the University of Hawaii (nice work if you can get it). He is also a frequent writer, conference presenter, and lecturer. Yes, in the past Dr. Jacso's monthly columns have had some great things to say about ResourceShelf.

This month, Dr. Jacso goes in-depth with a review of Google Book Search.

One thing Dr. Jacso does well is document and record, so there is no reason whatsoever to go over every detail of his article. If you've got the time, Jacso's got the detail. :-)

Here's the summary of the review from the site itself:

[On Google Book Search]

Good source for getting a feel for the content, style, typography, and illustrations of books through previewing a few pages. Very good ready reference source for finding definitions, descriptions from respected dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, fact books and similar publications. Most of the fully viewable books are a worthy bonus, but many of the older ones from the past centuries are illegible for the human eye. It is frustrating that even this project has problems with elementary search and filtering operations just like Google Scholar has.

So, that's the preview of his article direct from the site. Dr. Jacso goes on to document his findings in great detail.

Quick Aside #1
One thing we believe Google does get kudos for is doing their best to explain the variations between Google Book Search which includes the Google Library Program and Google for Publishers. There is a difference and Google has done its best to explain as documented here. Yet, many still don't. Google talks and explains but it often gets overlooked. That's something the library world needs to remember. Many book digitization projects exist!

We were also glad, no thrilled, to read, that Peter spent time speaking about other book digitization programs all the way book to Project Gutenberg which began 35 years ago.

Regular ResourceShelf readers know we also try to do our best to list some of them on our site and will list several at the end of this post. So make sure to visit.

This review also links to his review of Amazon's Search Inside the Book that we have several times short changed when it comes to NEW book digitization. What Google calls "limited preview" in their terminology with content coming directly from publishers and those same groups deciding how much can be seen.

Two recent ResourceShelf postings talked about SIB. This one looked at books from both sites during the recent Banned Week program. In some cases, not all, we found the book available via SIB vs. a snippet only on Google. One book, Catch-22, is available via SIB and Google lists two versions. However, the searcher clicking just to the first version will see a special edition of the book listed in only nine libraries in Worldcat. The second volume is the "classic."

Second, this post from May looks at the new look of SIB. Cool stuff and features not found elsewhere.

Now, Jacso delves deep into the review and let's let his always interesting and informative words speak for themselves.

Aside #2
We agree, the Google Limited Preview is fine for ready reference. Dr. Jacso uses an example that sure looks like a nice beach on a cold day here in DC. However, first, this shows that using more than one database (you've heard that before) is a good idea. Why? The book of beaches is not available via SIB. However, another of Dr. Jacso's examples is.

Google: The Concise Animal Encyclopedia.

Amazon: The Concise Animal Encyclopedia
At Amazon, for ready ref purposes, the pages can be viewed as a single page or in a continuous scroll. Yes, of course, just like at Google, the publisher decides how much can be viewed. You can also helped tired eyes via SIB by being able to zoom in and out on a specific page. Btw, a frequent question asked is can I keyword search the SIB title before I get to the book and "search inside." Let's search for Peter Jacso, with a search limited just to books. Vanity book searching to a degree.

Let's review:
Result #1: Peter Jacso is the author, it's a gimmee.
Result #2 and 3: Not available in SIB
Result #4: Note the excerpt with Jacso's name in context
Result #5-10: Except #7, all in SIB and able to find mentions of his name.

So, that's the story. Dr. Jacso goes on to praise both Google and Amazon but notes that:

...Amazon shows its superiority not only by bringing up the same book (although only as the 9th hit) but also 290 other books in which the word appears. It also includes reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and several other review publications incorporated in the master record), and offers many other informative features, including links to 116 other books cited by Affluenza.

Searches by the name of 15 publishers showed big differences between Amazon SIB collection and GBS. The latter came up better only for O’Reilly and the University of Hawaii Press with 36 versus 10, and 37 versus 3, respectively).

In the rest, Amazon was incomparably better, as illustrated by university presses such as Oxford (7,045 vs 57), Cambridge (11,445 vs 53), University of Chicago (2,923 vs 43), Princeton (2,193 vs 48), as well as commercial publishers Houghton Mifflin (736 vs 56), Blackwell (3114 vs 61), Penguin (2090 vs 16), Springer (13,138 vs 65), Taylor and Francis (1,565 vs 52), or McGraw-Hill (4,210 vs 34).

Earlier in the article he documents his "letdown" with Boolean and Field Searching at GBS. See: The Software Section.

Bottom Lines:
No tool is perfect (don't we forget that these days?) and that's why options are key for all types of reference tools, not only large engines like A, G, Y, M, and even E*). To those of you from the old school who remember a reference book, libraries often collected many books with basically the same info. The good librarian KNEW his or her collection and the value that each similar but slightly different volume offered. Sometimes it seems odd (and we are not immune to this) that librarians need to remember that no one source has it all.


Jacso's use of the word “complement.” We often forget it.

See Also: Mick O'Leary Comments on GBS and SIB in the new issue of Information Today. The article is titled, Google Book Search Has Far to Go.
Thanks to Greg Notess for the news tip.

Digitized Books (Some Selected Collections)

Public Domain
The Online Books Page
This link takes you to the "what's new" page. WOW! RSS too! What's most noteworthy here is the wide variety of sources along with the volume John Mark Ockerbloom at the University of Pennsylvania compiles daily.

Public Domain
The International Childrens Digital Library.
Another wow. Gorgeous scans and a UI developed for kids. Amazing. Books in many languages. Awesome.

Public Domain
World eBook Library
Over 500,000 full text books, all in PDF. They gave their entire database away for free last month. No worries, access to the database is just $8.95/U.S.

New Books Too!
Very cool. Usually licensed for libraries, this site that we've noted on RS also offers
20,000 full text books (some new) for free. A pay-per-page situation. New pricing model. About 25 cents per page.

Public Domain
New and Public Domain
The many collections that the Internet Archive is digitizing.

New Books
Many libraries (of all types) offer free full text access (no limits, no need to visit the library) to NetLibrary. Just ask. Others offer Safari Tech Books, Books 24x7, and others for free. Many libraries (let's use Brooklyn Public as an example) also offer downloadable audio books and downloadable movies.

Directories and Other Collections
+ eBookLocator

eBook Locator offers up-to-the-minute information on tens of thousands of eBooks from over 400 publishers worldwide.

+ Digital Book Index

Digital Book Index provides links to more than 129,000 title records from more than 1800 commercial and noncommercial publishers, universities, and various private sites. About 89,000 of these books, texts, and documents are available free, while many others are available at very modest cost.

+ Dave Mattison’s British Columbia Digital Library

+ Digital Collections of the National Library of Australia
Most material printable. Manuscripts, sheet music, books, maps, and more.

+ Biologia Centrali-Americana from the Smithsonian Libraries (a work in progress, over 58 volumes)

+ The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection from the Library of Congress (Many available as PDF's)
The illustrated book, fifteenth through twentieth centuries.

+ Canadian Corporate Report Archive (prototype, via McGill University)
Materials in PDF.

+ Medicine in the Americas, 1619-1914: A Digital Library
Titles in PDF form.

+ National Center for Biotechnology Information Medical Bookshelf

+ Making of America (MoA)

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 9,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints.

+ Harvard University Open Collections Program

+ The Library of the Internet Shakespeare Edition (via University of Victoria)

View and compare facsimiles of the works as originally printed; explore in-depth annotation of the plays as they are edited by our team of scholars.

+ Historic American Sheet Music (via Duke University)

Digital images of over 16,000 pages of sheet music from 3042 pieces published in the United States between 1850 and 1920.

Images are .jpg files and can be printed.



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