Even as the government continues its antitrust investigation of last year’s class-action settlement between Google and the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, the online search engine is stepping up accessibility to its current collection of digitized books and periodicals. Last week Google announced that it has added a handful of new features to its Book Search that enhance the reading, sharing, and searching of the public domain books and "partner" publications whose inclusion in the online collection has been authorized by their publishers.
Readers looking to share book previews can now do so via a link that embeds a text excerpt in an e-mail or on a Web site. Google has also incorporated a page-turning feature in addition to the existing page-to-page scrolling function, drop-down menus that allow quick navigation of a table of contents, and a thumbnail feature that presents a gallery of images of each page of a book or magazine. An upgrade of its search function within individual books provides more context to search results, giving a clearer idea of where sought-after terms occur in each publication.
Geared towards visually impaired readers, a new plain text view converts full-text media into an HTML font, a format compatible with text-to-speech software. Also altering the visual experience of the page, a line running beneath each row of text was added to aid readers in following text on a screen.
Book Search has also improved its book overview page, which displays publisher information, reviews, related books, and other supplemental information.
According to the New York Times, most of the new features are not applicable to the copyrighted books that Google has digitized without author or publisher permission to expand Book Search. With the settlement that would allow Google to sell digitized books and share profits with rightsholders awaiting resolution, only brief excerpts from those books are available through the service.