Google Book Search API Spreads Previews

    March 14, 2008

Don’t be surprised if Google’s name starts showing up much more frequently on whatever library computers or book sites you use; the search giant has just created an API that will encourage the use of Google Book Search.

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On the Official Google Blog, Frances Haugen and Matthew Gray outlined an example of the API’s usefulness.  "[C]heck out the Deschutes Public Library in Oregon, which has added a link to ‘Preview this book at Google’ next to the listings in their library catalog."

And this means library patrons can save themselves from wandering up and down aisles in search of something they won’t actually want or need (e.g., a research paper with a promising title but a ridiculous number of typos).

Of course, there are several limitations to the technology; for starters, it won’t show more (or less) of featured texts than Google Book Search has in the past.  Also, Tim Spalding, a representative of LibraryThing, writes, "Google data loads after the rest of the page, and may not be instant.  Because the data loads in your web browser, with no data ‘passing through’ LibraryThing servers, we can’t sort or search by it, and all-library searching is impossible."

Still, use of the Books Viewability API isn’t mandatory; as libraries and other entities pick up on it, this’ll generally be a sign that they’re growing fonder of Google.