Google has announced an update to the way Google Book Reader browses books. While I don’t think that this is going to take the place of curling up with a battered old paperback any time soon, reviewing books with Google Book Search is pretty nifty.
Google Book Search itself is at http://books.google.com/ . And because I’m in kinda a weird mood I did a search for zombies. And wow, I got over 29,000 pages of results (by default, book search results include both limited view books — those under copyright — and full view books. But you can toggle to get only full book views in your results.)
Oh my, Zombies from the Beyond: A Musical. Who can resist that? Though this is a limited view I can still look at some pages. Google Book Search now presents, as default — single-pages stacked one on top of the other in a scrolling view — you can review content without having to reload the pages. There’s also a two-page view. Forward/Back buttons allow you to quickly scroll through content. (You can also zoom in on pages you’re reviewing, which isn’t that useful when you’re reading a play.)
To the right of the book view there’s a summary about the book, table of contents, places to purchase the book, information about the publisher, and a search form to search just that book. Clicking “More about this book” underneath the summary brings you an entire page for the book, including featured pages, selected keywords (clicking on one runs a search in the book for that keyword), and recommended books. You might want to be careful with the recommended book feature — I looked at a kid’s book about zombies and found, amount he recommendations, an SF/F book that looked pretty gross. It doesn’t appear that Google Books takes the age range for books into account when making recommendations.
Very fast loading and nicely-done. Now I have to try some experimental searches for something a little more academic than zombies….