Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Google does Shakespeare

Once you begin digitizing entire collections, you can do interesting things. Google has created a section of Google Books devoted only to William Shakespeare. Google says:
Search within Hamlet for "to be or not to be" to read the rest of his famous soliloquy. Find out who called the world his "oyster" and why. Browse through a familiar play – or follow your curiosity to discover a new one. And if you decide you want to buy a copy, "All editions" will show you every version in Google Book Search, many of which are available for purchase.
They have divided the works into four categories: comedy, tragedy, romance and history. You are given quick access to specific titles s as well as the ability to see all editions.

The page also links to Google Earth where you can "visit the Globe Theater and other Shakespearean landmarks right from your desktop." And at the bottom of the page are other ways of exploring Shakespeare on the Internet -- all using Google.

Of course, this leads us to say, "To Google or not to Google, that is the question." But for many, that is no question at all! Google continues to develop products that attract us to it (something that more companies wish they could do).

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victor said...

The problems that are confronting Google as it attempts to digitize Shakespeare's works is best summed up by the blog "Reflective Librarian" and his posting at http://reflectivelibrarian.blogspot.com/2006/06/google-botches-shakespeare-ebooks.html

His posting explains the many problems with Google books, its short comings, its many discrepencies.

I should know because I have been involved in producing ebooks on the web for a number of years. (see http://www.bookyards.com ). When Google announced their digital project, I felt that there was no longer any purpose in doing our digital project. This perception was wrong....Google's project is too ambitious, resulting in the confusion and mess that it finds itself presently in.

If you want Shakespeare, just go to

We have also compiled a good collection of other digital libraries with books available for downloading. Just go to Bookyards “Library Collections - E Books” at http://www.bookyards.com/links.html?type=links&category_id=1780
There are approximately 350 digital libraries separated alphabetically and by category, with over 200,000 ebooks......ebooks that are vastly superior and better organized than what Google books is offering.

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Victor, thank you! I've also chronicled some of the problems with Google's digitization efforts here. Since they feel that they are helping people find books (and not necessarily read them online) perhaps then they find this level of quality acceptable. Given that you only want to digitize a work once, however, I'm saddened to see that they have not done a better job.