Tag Archives: reading

Free study material: Celebrating Rethinking Globalizations, Routledge

23 Aug

Free study material: Celebrating Rethinking Globalizations, Routledge.

The Truth about Google Books: What’s the Value for Academia?

4 Jan

As we have said before, the web offers countless solutions to students and academics. Just imagine the e-mail, online journals, library online catalogues, encyclopedias etc. Now we are going to discuss Google Books, a massive e-book engine provided by Google.

As you might know, Google used to add on its database the full text of thousands of books, but after a protest by authors and their publishing companies, it agreed to show only parts of each book, called “previews”. Now the Google Books database includes literally millions of books from any discipline we can imagine. But showing only parts of them might seem unfair and useless, right? Well, it is not. First of all, copyrights must always be respected, because some people spend countless working hours on research, writing and editing for you to use their book and succeed in your studies  And, secondly, Google Books is still valuable enough for the student or researcher to be grateful to Google for ever.

It is obvious it has some disadvantages. For example, you cannot highlight, note or underline. Also, parts that you really need for your seminars or assignments might be omitted.

But the advantages it offers are much more important.

First of all, it is free. Yes, accession to millions of treasures from around the world is now completely free of charge and you now do not have to make loads of photocopies (and pay gold for them). If you are one of those students who need to save on everything, you probably understand its value in the dimensions it deserves.

Secondly, you can find almost everything sold or stacked in bookshops and libraries. And this practically means that while you wait for a book to be returned to the library by another student or the bookshop clerk to get your order, you can carry on with that urgent assignment or reading, at anytime, no matter if it is midnight, working hours or dawn. Consequently, this facilitation offered to you adds extra points to your efficiency.

Thirdly, in your Google bookcase there is endless space for the books you choose, unlike your Students Hall’s tiny racks. And while you are checking out a book, you are getting thousands of recommendations, which can give you ideas and more information.

Fourthly, you will probably find it extremly valuable if you are a gap year student preparing your research proposal in the countryside and have to travel many hours to reach an academic library (as happens to me right now). Now you can deliver a decent proposal written with the help of the work of distinguished academics from all over the world.

Of course, you cannot highlight or bookmark. Well, could you do this with a library book? Of course not (oops! courtesy to the next one is the explanation in case you are a naughty reader). All you have to do is write down the information you need on your notebook (or your computer, if you love technology). I understand that you cannot stick those funky sticker bookmarks as happens with a real book, but this is life; we cannot have it all.

Now how about the omitted parts? No problem. In many books only some unimportant pages are omitted such as those containing graphs, indexes etc.. I’ve been often lucky to discover the book I am after omits just the bibliography, foreword or index.  If the omitted part is something you really need, then I’m afraid you should try the traditional methods, that is the library and the bookshop.

Of course, Google Books should not replace an academic library. But it can certainly save your face when you cannot reach, find or afford the textbooks you need.

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