Google Print Debuts

Google Print, the hotly debated, much awaited, digital books project, went public today. As many librarians and commentators have noted, this project is not the latest sign of the apocalpyse for traditional libraries, although it is often treated as such. As Google itself notes on the help page, “In general, Google Print aims to help you discover books, not read them from start to finish. It’s like going to a bookstore and browsing – only with a Google twist.” Although you can browse the full text of public domain works, it is not easy to find them — there is no “master list” of full-text works. Searching for a phrase or word and then seeing the context within a single page requires you to login with your gmail account, or register for a gmail account, in order to see results. Why? The help pages are less than forthcoming about exactly what Google is tracking when you log in. You can’t print the page you are looking at (at least I couldn’t on a variety of machines), and you can’t copy and paste text out of the image of the page.

As with many Google projects, expect it to be interesting in unexpected ways. One can imagine it being a pretty powerful anti-plagiarism search engine. If you suspect that the author of the paper or book that you are reading is incapable of writing a sentence like “Not only a paradigm, this original collision among the Hawaiians condenses also a possible theory of history, of the relation between structure and event, beginning with the proposition that the transformation of a culture is a mode of its reproduction”, plug it into Google print and see what pops up.

DigitalKoans has compiled a bibliography of the Google Print controversy [via Researchbuzz]

Leave a Reply