Google book search is undergoing a much needed improvement. Unfortunately, its book search engine is not like the main Google search engine. On Google book search, you have to have a pretty good idea of the book you are looking for when you start to search. You can’t just enter a couple of relevant keywords and get returns for lots of near shots. Instead you get returns of books that have titles with your keywords in them.
I find this very strange, because when Google ran Amazon’s search engine, you could key in a few flaky, half-remembered words from a book title or subject, and you’d probably get what you were looking for in the returns on screen 1 or if not, 2. Amazon has now (deliberately) fallen out with Google and runs on A9, its own search engine, which drives me crazy. (Amazon has great plans for A9 beyond selling stuff on Amazon: they see themselves as rivals to Google. Ha!)
But I digress. The Amazon history shows that Google can do it for books. There is a niche, I am convinced of it, for people looking for a dimly remembered book via a few keywords. When I was a student I used to work in the vacations as a bookseller in Blackwell’s. I have lost count of the number of times a customer would wander in and say something like: "I’m looking for the book that was on that table about a year ago, or maybe two. It was blue and about this big [gestures with hands]. Do you still have it?" Ask the customer what the book was about, and he (invariably a male) looked at you as if you were a bit mad. And if you have ever been in Blackwell’s, and have an idea of the size of its stock, you will know who was the mad one.
All this is a rather convoluted way of saying I’m very pleased Google is paying attention to its book search, and although some of the new features are not much cop (eg who needs more of that "search inside this book" rubbish?), some of them are said to be ways to make it easier to find the book in the first place. So I’ll be checking it out.
Incidentally, while on search, and moving from the sublimely grand to ridiculously minuscule (but pleasing to me), I’ve installed a new "widget" in the left-hand sidebar, a Google search of this blog (that’s the real Google search, not the Google book search type of search). I have performed detailed testing and it really works, unlike the Technorati equivalent, which simply drags you out of here and dumps you in the Technorati wastelands for evermore looking at pictures of Arianna Huffington. So if you put in a keyword or two into that Google search box thingy in my sidebar, and I’ve written posts using that keyword or two, you will find my words of wisdom, and what’s more still be in Petrona.