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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Google Books (EN): Get going

What is Google Books?

Google Books is a large, for the most part full text searchable database with millions of scanned books from libraries or directly from publishers.

Access to Google Books

Google Books is freely accessible on the Internet. We recommend you to use Advanced Search

When to use Google Books?

Google Books is a good option if you want to:

  • discover books by subject, because with Google Books you usually search in the full text of books;  please note that you will still have to check the library catalogue to find out if you have access to the text in Utrecht
  • read the full text of copyright free (older) books
  • read (parts of) newer copyrighted books (with some luck) which you cannot find elsewhere, sometimes just the chapter you needed turns out to be available in full text
  • trace books of which you only remember text fragments

You can even search for (non-scientific, often American) journals.

Discovering books and chapters on your subject with Google Books

The strength of Google Books is that you search so many books in a single search action and more in particular: you search the majority of the books from cover to cover. This means that you will find lots of books in which a whole chapter deals with your subject, whereas the title does not contain your search terms. You would never have found these books in classical catalogues. And even if your search terms only occur in one paragraph on page 273 you will find them. Have you found such a book, copy and paste the title in the catalogue of Utrecht University Library to see if the (e-)book is available. You can also click Find in a library to do a lookup in Worldcat which has info on which libraries have a copy of the book.

We recommend you to use advanced search.

  • Enter your search terms in the box With all of the words
  • Change the order of the words, gives different results
  • enter a phrase you expect to find in a book on your subject in the box With the exact phrase

More tips:

  • Be careful with the option to enter subject terms: by no means all books contain this kind of keywords, so you will only search part of the books
  • Once you have found a book, check Related books.

With Google Books reading books the library does not have

With Google Books you can sometimes read (parts of) books. This  might come in handy  if the library does not have the (e-)book. Sometimes what you may read is limited by copyright issues or agreements with the publisher.

To find a book of which you already know the exact title you can:

  • simply search for the title (type it between " ") or:
  • fill in the fields Title, Author or Publication date and ISBN at Advanced search

It might be that only one edition can be found of a book which has several editions. For such books enter a larger period before the publication date and do not use the ISBN.

Sometimes a book can be found in the original language and not in translation, or the other way around.

If you are searching for a passage of a book, enter it in the field With the exact phrase. Do this only if you are sure about the exact wording.
You may also enter the words in the field With all words. In your results there will be then also be passages which contain not all of your search terms.

Google Books search

Facts and figures

  • Type of content: partly full text (searchable), partly only title data
  • Coverage period: all years
  • Content: > 20 million
  • Subject coverage: all
  • Default search method: AND
  • Default results ranking: by relevance
  • Truncating on word stem: not possible
  • Producer: Google

What if you cannot consult the book in its entirety in Google Books?

Of all books, Google does by no means show the full text or the part you need. Unfortunately Google Books does not support the UBU link. You can:

  • best option: use copy/paste to enter the title in the library catalogue to find out if the (e-)book is available; be careful with copying titles with diaciritcs and punctuation, it is safest to retype the title manually
  • Under 'Get this book in print' follow the link 'Find this book in a library': it takes you to Worldcat; if you enter as location you will see if it is available in Utrecht. Unfortunately some publishers have this link to libraries blocked. NB This may very well lead you to one of our e-books.
  • sometimes the link to the publisher works if the university library has bought the book as e-book on the site of the publisher
  • search for the book in Picarta to find out if the book is available in other Dutch libraries than Utrecht University Library
  • submit a purchase suggestion