The WSJ is reporting tonight that Google is set to radically expand its book search service, and combine that, sort of, with Google Scholar. It is a bibliophile bonanza:
In a dramatic expansion to an existing Google service that makes books searchable online, the Mountain View, Calif., company will scan the entire library of the University of Michigan, which includes seven million volumes. It also will make available online large parts of the libraries at Stanford University and the University of Oxford, as well as books from Harvard University and the New York Public Library.
The initiative has the potential to change the way people view their libraries, as they are able to find information from books without ever setting foot in the library itself. It also intensifies Google’s competition with Internet retailer Amazon.com Inc., which itself offers a service for searching within books.
Under the new program, consumers will be able to type key words into Google’s main Web search site just as they currently do. Links to portions of text from the library books will then show up in the results. The books-related results will be set apart at the top of the search-result page. When users click on a book-related result, they will see images of the relevant scanned pages with their search terms highlighted.
Depending on agreements with a book’s publisher or author, the user will then be able to browse a portion of the book or the entirety. Starting today, some of the books already digitized at the University Michigan will go online. Piggybacking on a separate database, Google’s service allows consumers to type in their ZIP Code and see if books that show up in their search results are owned by libraries near them.