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Life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Charles Forbes comte de Montalembert

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Zella sees herself

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Revista do Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro

Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro)

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scones and Remarkable Person of the Great Town

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An essay on demonology, ghosts and apparitions, and popular superstitions

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About Google's Books ...

Yes, they've really done it ... physically scanned MILLIONS of books and put them online.

There are actually several different categories of books that can be searched at books.google.com. Some books (contemporary) have been uploaded by their publishers so they can be searchable and findable online. Usually, only a sample of the contents of these books can be read online, because the publishers (understandably) want you to buy the book.

Then there are the books Google has scanned from libraries (big ones, like Harvard and Stanford, among others). These include both public domain (works which are no longer in copyright) and books which are still in copyright. These latter category have been the subject of a lawsuit and a pending settlement as to whether or not Google had the right to scan them in the first place.

Regarding the public domain books, however, there is no controversy, and Google has made all of these searchable and downloadable online at their books.google.com site. Originally, they did a "brute-force" OCR scan of the texts primarily to make them searchable — if some of the text was garbled in the process, well, that didn't reduce the value overall. Once you found a book, you could read it online, or download a PDF consisting of the actual scanned page images (as opposed to the digital text) of the books — underlines, smudges, and "date due" stamps and all.)

With the advent of popular ebook readers in the last couple of years, Google has refined their OCR process (it is still subject to glitches, especially if the source text was of poor quality), but they have added structure recognition, allowing them to re-package the text into an ebook. Google has opted to support the open epub format, which in a lot of ways is a good thing -- but not for Kindle users, whose readers support the MOBI format. Fortunately, conversion software in the form of the open-source Calibre software makes it possible to convert between formats. You can use Calibre on your desktop, or you can use RetroRead, which provides an online source for conversion and direct posting to your Kindle, using the Calibre engine.

How do I find things?

It can be pretty overwhelming to "browse" the Google repository of public domain works. Of course, if you know what you are looking for -- at title or an author -- that is completely straightforward. But if you want to "wander" through the Google stacks as through a second hand bookstore, a few tips:

A given search will return a limited number of results, even if there are many more matches. Narrow your searches by date, category, and time period. If you find a book of interest on a given topic or period, note the publisher, and do a search for that publisher.

If you play with the advanced search options, pretty soon you'll discover that there is a real gold mine in there that just needs a little digging.

Register to set up your Retroread account and start reading Google books on your Kindle today!

 

BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman