Friday, March 26, 2021

Four tricks you need to know to read on Google Books

 Google Books... 

... you might have used it to do research.  Even though it's a resource I use all the time, this week I learned a few tricks that completely change the way I use Google Books.  Here are the 4 key things that you need to know: 

1. Move forward/backward in a book with J and K.  

I'm amazed that I didn't know this!  Instead of trying to click the left arrow / right arrow with your mouse, just press the J key to move forward and the K key to move backwards.  Simple, but it completely changes the way you read. 

2. Select Full-view or Google eBooks to find books in Full-view  

Of course, the "Free Google eBooks" that are in full-view are mostly older books, but that still might be useful.  Here's a side-by-side comparison that shows Any vs. Free eBook vs. Any (with full-view only selected in the advanced search menu).  

Click to see in full-res.

3. When you want to search carefully, use the Advanced search menu for Books.  

It's kind of hidden, but here's how to get to it. 

Once you're there, you'll see a lot of options--check out the figure below.  For today, just notice the view options below the blue area: All books, Limited preview, Full view only, Google eBooks--these are the different viewing conditions for the books.  

Yeah, it looks old-fashioned, but it works.  

4. Use the 2-page viewer AND the multi-page viewer.  

Somehow, I totally missed this in the Books user interface.  Pay attention to these three buttons: 

Default view is 1-page. High res: great for reading. 

As you see here, the default view is 1-page. That's great for reading, but not so great for skimming.  

And skimming is a great way to quickly get an overview of an entire book.  If you're searching for a particular piece of information (say, in a graphic or illustration), the multi-page overview is your friend.  Here's that previous book Adorning the World: Art of the Marquesas Islands in multi-page: 

A multi-page view of Adorning the World.  

And lastly, I actually prefer the 2-page view because it often shows you how the two-page spread sits on the open book.  In this example, the map makes a LOT more sense when seen in a 2-page layout: 
Check these tools out.  Trust me--they'll change the way you read Google Books online.  

Search on! 


  1. Thanks Dr Russell!

    I'm trying these new tricks. I will also try Google ebooks(not free) to see the difference.

    Is there a way to find advanced search on mobile? I haven't been able to find it

    1. As I couldn't find the advanced search on mobile (haven't tried tablet) decided to search for it. [Advanced search Google books] gives us the link.

      Advanced Search

      By the way, I am wondering why Google App doesn't show the search tools when we search. I think it's is because we, the people, don't use tools a lot there. I as an example, use Discover, Snapshot and Collections. Search is very basic. With more complex ones, I go to Chrome

    2. You're right: the UI has changed. The link to the Books Advanced search is now:

  2. Great tips!! Thanks so much :)