Tuesday, January 18, 2022

How to find downloadable books in Google Books

 All I wanted was a full-view version of Audubon's masterpiece, The Birds of America... 

A page from Audubon's "Birds of America"

... but I was having a hard time findingi it.  But with a little help from my friends on the Books team, I learned how to do this.  

1.  Do your search and limit the returns to "Full View" 

2. Then, open that book (Volume 1) to see this: 

3. Clear the search (you'll see why in the next step).  This will then show you the summary page of this book: 

4.  To find the other volumes of Birds of America, click on the "Other editions" button in the center of the UI:  

5. Click on "More" -- This will then show you all of the "Other editions" of this book, which will include the option to filter by "downloadable"! 

6. Once you click on "Download available," it will show you all of the PDF versions of the books, including nearly all of the other volumes: 

Interestingly, this list now shows you full scans of Birds of America that do not show up in "full view," but which are downloadable (and therefore in full view... go figure).  

But I'll tell you now--Volume 5 doesn't show up when you do this search.  (It doesn't seem to have ever been scanned.)  But the OTHER 7 volumes do show up!  And if you're an amateur field biologist, this is a treasure trove for you.  

Search on! 

Post Script:  

If you like this, try the following amazing books, which I leave as suggestions for the interested SRS reader to find: 

On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres.  (aka De revolutionibus orbium caelestium) Nicolaus Copernicus.  

Le operazioni del compasso geometrico, e militare, etc, by Galileo.  (1649)

Hamlet, Shakespeare: 



  1. thanks for pointing out the New Goo Büks — fwiw, did find a V volume for you - not high res, but they are there
    the book search tip is good, if a bit convoluted… fwiw, the Books search function must be relatively new —
    the example pages you show don't render with the same features/tools; e.g., the "new Google Books" page…
    mine just seems to stay on the "classic"… wait, OK, I finally stumbled my way through & now see the nGB

    regarding John James Audubon’s seminal Birds of America: from Colossal, 2019:
    has link to Audubon site
    the birds… don't seem angry, but maybe they should have been
    flamingo – has much additional info
    also pink, Roseate Spoonbill

    a bit off subject, bit found while looking for Copernicus… also found nothing 'about' or way to search…
    have you looked at JanetPanic before? a little weird, but many, many rabbit holes…
    easier to navigate, video in 'about'

    1. Nicely done! Thanks.

      WRT the new vs. "classic" version of the Books UI... I wasn't aware that it would default to the Classic version. Did you set a preference somewhere / somewhen?

      (And no, I didn't know about JanetPanic... will have to take a look.)

  2. Replies
    1. Just curious -- did you just KNOW about the biodiversity library (for the "Birds of America" Volume V), or did you find it through a clever search process? (I know about the Biodiversity library, but it's fairly obscure. So I'm super curious how YOU found it!)

    2. knew about the biodiversity heritage library from earlier searches – when i did a search for "Birds of America" Volume V, the BHL
      link came up about 3⁄4 of the way down the SERP, went from there:
      BHL on flickr… may have seen it here too??
      searching BHL on flickr - example

      not quite as melodious

      another source with the addition of the Ornithological Biography…
      University of Pittsburgh
      Audubon at Pitt
      the Ornithological Biography.

  3. Replies
    1. Love it! (The Field Sparrow song is beautiful.)

  4. The Internet Archive also has volume 5.

    1. That's an excellent find. Note that the IA's copy is from the Biodiversity library (that is, BHL scanned it and gave a copy to the IA). The downloadable version is: https://ia800802.us.archive.org/3/items/birdsofameri518391871audu/birdsofameri518391871audu.pdf

  5. Hello, this is not downloadable, exactly but pretty awesome.
    you can Explore by Alphabetical
    View the plates in chronological order and view by State Birds