Google print, which is scanning thousands of books in major research libraries, is useful when you want to scan across many English language books for terms. It only offers you a few pages, but will show you all the hits for words in given books, the pages they are on, and what pages surround them. Many books are not yet available, and you will find that some important books on East Asian history, both old and new are frustratingly missing will less common works are there. However, instead of going to the index of books you own, if it is on Google Print we have an increasingly quick alternative to consulting indexes.
For example, didn’t Poshek Fu’s book on collaboration in wartime Shanghai mention an organization called the Shanghai Association of the Theatrical Circle for National Salvation? Ah yes, Google Print tells me that it is mentioned on page 74, and in a footnote on page 188. I can then login to my google account and view that page, and in many cases a few pages surrounding it.
You can also completely search the contents of a work by of our own Alan Baumler, the leading contributor here at Frog in a Well – China. His Modern China and Opium: A Reader is already scanned up by Google through the University of Michigan’s library.
Now, most of us know that Google has been scanning lots of books no longer protected under copyright. Thanks to this announcement, it is easier for me to get at them.
Go to Google Print and search for China related books, for example, with this search term:
You can also use other search elements to limit by author for example (eg. author:smith) or title (eg. intitle:language).
This could develop into a very useful searching tool for us in the future, since every page of these public domain books can be searched and viewed through google.
Update: See more interesting examples of old google print text searching over at Cliopatria.