Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print and by its codename Project Ocean) is a service from Google Inc. that searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and stored in its digital database. Books are provided either by publishers and authors, through the Google Books Partner Program, or by Google's library partners, through the Library Project. Additionally, Google has partnered with a number of magazine publishers to digitize their archives.
The Publisher Program was first known as 'Google Print' when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. The Google Books Library Project, which scans works in the collections of library partners and adds them to the digital inventory, was announced in December 2004.
The Google Books initiative has been hailed for its potential to offer unprecedented access to what may become the largest online body of human knowledge and promoting the democratization of knowledge. But it has also been criticized for potential copyright violations, and lack of editing to correct the many errors introduced into the scanned texts by the OCR process.
As of October 2015, the number of scanned book titles was over 25 million, but the scanning process has slowed down in American academic libraries. Google estimated in 2010 that there were about 130 million distinct titles in the world, and stated that it intended to scan all of them.
Results from Google Books show up in both the universal Google Search as well as in the dedicated Google Books search website (books.google.com).
In response to search queries, Google Books allows users to view full pages from books in which the search terms appear, if the book is out of copyright or if the copyright owner has given permission. If Google believes the book is still under copyright, a user sees "snippets" of text around the queried search terms. All instances of the search terms in the book text appear with a yellow highlight.
The four access levels used on Google Books are:
In response to criticism from groups such as the American Association of Publishers and the Authors Guild, Google announced an opt-out policy in August 2005, through which copyright owners could provide a list of titles that it did not want scanned, and Google would respect the request. Google also stated that it would not scan any in-copyright books between August and 1 November 2005, to provide the owners with the opportunity to decide which books to exclude from the Project. Thus, Google provides a copyright owner with three choices with respect to any work:
Each book on Google Books has an associated "About this book" page which displays analytical information regarding the book such as a word map of the most used words and phrases, a selection of pages, list of related books, list of scholarly articles and other books that cite the book, and tables of content. This information is collated through automated methods, and sometimes data from third-party sources is used. This information provides an insight into the book, particularly useful when only a snippet view is available. The list of related books can often contain irrelevant entries. In some cases, a book summary and information about the author is also displayed. The page also displays bibliographic information, which can be exported as citations in BibTeX, EndNote and RefMan formats. Registered users logged in with their Google accounts can post reviews for books on this page. Google Books also displays reviews from Goodreads alongside these reviews.
Most scanned works are no longer in print or commercially available. For those which are, the site provides links to the website of the publisher and booksellers.
Google Books can retrieve scanned books from URLs based on the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), Library of Congress Control Numbers (LCCN) and Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) record numbers. For example, the 'About this book' page of a book with the ISBN 0521349931 can be linked as books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0521349931
For some books, Google also provides the ability to link directly to the front cover, title page, copyright page, table of contents, index, and back cover of a book, by using an appropriate parameter. For example, the front cover of a book with the OCLC number 17546826 can be linked as books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC17546826&printsec=frontcover
For many books, Google Books displays the original page numbers, resulting in many benefits such as enabling writers to prepare citations with page numbers without needing to have a print copy of the book. However, Tim Parks, writing in The New York Review Blogs, noted that Google had stopped providing page numbers for many recent publications, "presumably in alliance with the publishers, in order to force those o