Newsletter reader Mal Humes sent along some information about a new Google service that sounds great. Here is Mal's message:
I enjoy your blog.
I wanted to bring a new Google feature to your attention that as yet seems to be unnoticed, and it takes Google Books a giant step forward in its usefulness.
Basically you can now use Google Books to create a custom library, review books, and to tag them with categories and labels.
You can then use that book collection as a list to share with others, and the Library also offers a custom full text search engine for you and others to search specific collections of books you've added to your library. Think about the implications of that.
It's basically a Web 2.0 makeover that lets books be handled much the same way YouTube handles videos, but it's arguably a much more valuable service because of the way it allows us to mine collections of books and share custom search tools built on this.
The implications are stunning, not just for genealogy, but also for students and researchers.
It gives us a way to rate, flag, and share useful books, and to better navigate and re-use the books we find, and we can cut and paste directly from the web pages into our research notes and database if the material is in the public domain.
Please see my blog post on this at: http://colonialroots.net/2007/09/08/google-books-adds-my-library-tags-reviews-and-personal-searches/
I think this merits a lot more attention, if not a celebration. Full-text book searches effectively trump traditional library catalogs and the typically incomplete indexes found in books. This stands a good chance to eclipse Amazon's social networking of books via listmania and reviews.
It hasn't even really crept out into mainstream media, and I don't think may people see yet how much this will likely change the way we use electronic books by adding a whole level of utility to electronic books management and usage.
Thanks for the information, Mal. I took a look at http://books.google.com and found that even Google does not prominently promote the new services mentioned. However, once you display a book (after sign in), one of the links in the column to the right of the book offers to "Add to my library." A bit of poking around with Google's search engine found the FAQ (frequently-asked questions). The FAQ sums it up:
"You can now create personalized libraries on Google Book Search where you can label, review, rate, and of course, full-text search, a customized selection of books. These collections will live online and be accessible anywhere you can log in to your Google account. Once you've built a collection, you can share it with friends by sending them a link to your library in Google Book Search. You can even set up RSS feeds with friends so that they're alerted when you add new books to your collection."
If you use Google's Gmail, you already have the requisite account. If not, creating one is simple and free. You can read more about the new features at http://books.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=75375.