Anyone who reads should know about Google Book Search. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This includes the world's books. To help accomplish this goal, Google has joined more than 20,000 publishers and many of the world's libraries to allow readers to search for books online.
Google Book Search allows you to search the full text of Google's large (over 7 million in 100 languages) and growing index of books, from popular titles to old, out-of-print and public domain volumes, to find pages that include your search terms. Once you find a given book, you can browse available pages, search further in that book, find online reviews, and learn where to buy the book or check it out of a nearby library, and in some cases, even read the entire title online.
Book Search also gives you the opportunity to build a library of books you are interested in. Using this information, Google Book Search recommends books you might be interested in (much like Netflix does for movies). For those of you who have iGoogle pages, a gadget is now available that lets you use this feature from your personal iGoogle page.
Let's look at a book search for Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. The initial page not only gives you a list of the current in-print versions with a picture of the cover, but also gives you a list of books teachers may want to use when planning lessons around the book. Click on the cover of Esperanza Rising and be instantly taken to a preview of the book. While some pages of this in-print book have been omitted, you'll be able to read a limited number of pages of different parts of the book. As a teacher, just think of what a wonderful resource this can be in previewing books for suitability and reading level for reading assignments!
From the sidebar of this page, click on the "more" link and be taken to the "About this book " page where you'll be able to read reviews (or even add one of your own), find references to popular passages, or find where the book has been referenced in scholarly journals.
Google also helps you find a copy of the book. Google's Product Search lets you compare prices of the book from various vendors. Or you can go directly to your favorite online vendor by clicking the link which takes you directly to the book's page in the vendor's website. Prefer to borrow the book from the library? Google can help with this, too! Click on the "Find this book in a library" link and it'll take you straight to the WorldCat website where you'll be asked to enter your zip code. That will take you to a list of local libraries with links to their websites. It'll also give you information on the format available at each of the libraries. This search indicated that Esperanza Rising is available through the San Jose Public Library system on cassette tape. A click on "cassette tape" will tell you which of the neighborhood libraries has the tape version, and even, which of those copies are currently available to check out!