Google Books: A World Library in the Palm of Your Hand

I am not always one to embrace innovation, and I’ve resisted ebooks for a long time. I do a lot of reading on my laptop and smartphone, but I didn’t want read books on either device, and I certainly didn’t want to invest in yet another device to my tech arsenal. Then Mr. Sally J found the Google Books app for iPad, and downloaded a copy of Alice in Wonderland for our daughter.

Suddenly, I was intrigued.

Google Books has been in development for as long as Google has been around. In 1996, wonder boys Larry and Sergey began creating what is Google. The original project? It was all about digital libraries, and funded by the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project. The History of Google Books explains:

Their goal was to make digital libraries work, and their big idea was as follows: in a future world in which vast collections of books are digitized, people would use a “web crawler” to index the books’ content and analyze the connections between them, determining any given book’s relevance and usefulness by tracking the number and quality of citations from other books.

I could say the rest is history, but this post hasn’t hit 200 words yet.

Basically, Google Books is a collections of millions of digitally scanned books (Google invented a scanning process that doesn’t harm the books in the way traditional scanning methods did). This means if you view Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, you will see the original illustrations by John Tenniel along with the text, in the original typeface. You get the author’s notes, every single page of the book is there for you to see.

Google Books works anywhere you can sign in with your Google account, simply go to  There’s an app for Android, all Apple devices. Files are compatible with the Nook by Barnes & Noble and the Reader by Sony. Books can simply be viewed via Internet connection or downloaded and stored locally.

As I was learning about Google Books, I began to wonder how Google Books stacks up against the mainstream Kindle by Amazon. From I can tell, it sounds like Google Books is convenient way for the casual user to enjoy an ebook or two. The Kindle allows users to digitally mark the text and make notes, which for some users is a deal breaker. The lighting on the dedicated devices, along with no-lag time in turning pages are features that savvy eReader fans cite as the drawbacks to Google Books. To read more about how Google Books compares to the Kindle (and other devices), read this post at Android Central.

Personally, it’s the scanned version of the book that has won me over and even has me entertaining the idea of trying to entire read a novel in digital form. I think just knowing that there are nearly three million free books on Google Books will come in handy the next time I’m waiting in the airport or in the doctor’s office. In addition to the free books (mostly classics and reference texts), there are hundreds of thousands books available for purchase. Current fiction is available, as well as children’s books. To find the free books, go to any category and then pick a topic within that category. Once the results pop up, then click on “Price: Free Only” in the top left corner.

Are you digital book fan? Are you a casual user or die-hard fan?

Total side note: While doing a search to confirm the original artist of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I came across this website featuring a directory of illustrators of this classic book. I was kind of amazed.

One reply on “Google Books: A World Library in the Palm of Your Hand”

I like Google Books for those academic tomes that are long out-of-print or unavailable at my local library. (I’m a nerd.) I don’t have a kindle and the thought of reading an entire book in my browser screams impending migraine to me. This is really the only thing that’s stopping me from buying books in digital form.

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