The Internet has opened a whole new world of availability for products and tools that we never had access to before. However, one of the things I dislike about online purchasing is the problem of buying site unseen. This is never more true than when buying books, especially woodworking related books. So in this article I’d like to bring a website to your attention, just in case you are not aware of it. The website is called Google Books and it is another great service from search engine giant, Google.
Google has scanned over 10 million books and converted them into searchable text. Clicking a result from the Google Book Search opens an interface in which you can view the book and its pages. Depending on the individual book you may be able to read the whole book or get a limited preview, the majority being in limited preview. However, I have found that the limited preview is usually more than adequate to get a good sense of what the book’s content is like, allowing you to make your decision to purchase or not.
Here are a few examples of some great woodworking books that are available for preview:
Ellsworth on Woodturning by David Ellsworth
The Art of Turned Bowls by Richard Raffan
The Furniture of Sam Maloof by Jeremy Adamson
Understanding Wood by Bruce Hoadley
While not every book listed is available for preview you can filter those that are by using the ‘Advanced Search’ feature. For example, you can search for books with previews in specific categories like Woodworking, Woodturning and Woodcarving. You can also do this with the links that are available on the left-hand menu, along with viewing your search results in either list or cover view. I prefer the cover view.
Google Books also allows public-domain works and other out-of-copyright material to be downloaded in PDF format.
You can create a personalized ‘Bookshelf’, which is similar to bookmarking a website, where you can keep track, organize, rate and review your favorite books. You can also share your collection with your friends.
All in all I believe that this is a pretty cool service, one that has certainly enabled me to make my online book purchases in confidence.
Before I go, here’s a little nugget that I found – search for ‘American Woodworker’ and then click ‘Browse All Issues’. This will bring up full issues of this magazine from 1989 to 1999! Click here to see what I mean.
If you find any nuggets of your own please let me know!
You can start your search for lotsa woodworking related books and a whole lot more from the main page of Google Books located here.
Back to the shop…