Have you ever bought a book online? Chances are you might have used Google Books before and now Google Books has rolled out a series of updates you just might love. The main new features address some new updates like navigation of contents of the books and sharing of previews of the books. And this pretty much sums up a few things — Google books is turning into a mega online book store as well as some social service. We are anticipating more on such updates coming to other Google products. Here are the main highlights of the new features in Google Books:
1. Embeds and links – This new toolbar option allows you to embed a preview of a full view or partner book in any of your websites or blogs–all with a simple html snippet. It’s a lot like the embed tag that makes it so easy to share YouTube videos. Programmers comfortable with API tools could accomplish this via our Embedded Viewer API, but this new solution is much easier for everyone to use. You can also choose to grab a URL link to email or IM to friends that takes them to the same book and page on Google Books. For readers, this means they can more easily share pages from books you love, while publisher partners can gain even more awareness across the web to promote their books.
2. Better search within each book – You’ve always been able to search inside books you find on Google Book Search. Now, for public domain and partner books, we’ve made it easier to see exactly where your search term appears within the book by showing you more context around the term, including an image from the part of the page on which it appears. You can click on those images to navigate directly to the pages inside the book. You can also sort your search results by relevance in addition to page order in the book or magazine.
In the search results bar, you’ll find ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons that allow you to browse through search hits quickly and easily.
3. Thumbnail view – Click on the thumbnail view button in the toolbar to see an overview of all the pages in a public domain book or in a magazine. Clicking on a thumbnail image will take you to that page in the reading view (available for “full view” books).
4. Contents drop-down menu – Above the book itself, you’ll find a Contents drop-down that allows you to jump to chapters within the book–or articles within a magazine. (In case you’re wondering, we built this using the same structure extraction technology that supports our mobile version of Google Books.)
5. Plain Text Mode – We’ve made it easier to find our plain text versions of public domain books. If a book is available in full view, you can click the ‘Plain text’ button in the toolbar to see our HTML version of the text (derived via OCR for full view books). This is especially useful for visually impaired Google users, who can use this format for text-to-speech and other types of software.
6. Page Turn Button and Animation – In addition to scrolling through the book, you can now also click the page turn button at the bottom of the screen, even if you haven’t yet finished the page. An animated line moves with the page turn to make it easier to keep track of your location in the text.
7. Improved Book Overview Page – On the Overview page you’ll find an assortment of useful data about the book, including reviews, ratings, summaries, related books, key words and phrases, references from the web, places mentioned in the book, publisher information, etc.