Google Books: An Invaluable Resource for Students and Educators


From research to reading, Google Books should be the giant wrench in every student’s digital toolbox. Opening access to digital and printed texts from libraries and publishers around the globe, Google Books not only makes books searchable, it also offers a host of features for tracking, annotating and sharing books online. Often overlooked by students and educators, Google Books is a powerful alternative to generic web searching that can be used to find credible, trustworthy and attributable information quickly and easily.

Google BooksNameGoogle Books
Pricing: Free
Compatibility: Browser
Access: No signup required
Privacy: Customizable (privacy policy)


A Quick Look


In Practice

1. An alternative web search

Next time your students are tasked with an appropriate research assignment, encourage them to try Google Book search over a normal Google search. Have them use the Search Tools or Advanced Search features to further refine their results and use the Bibliographic information for citation and referencing. Once your students become familiar with the interface, they will begin to see certain advantages and it will become a natural part of their ongoing research approach.

2. Create a class or student bookshelf

One concept that Google Books uses to organize books is that of shelves. A shelf is a collection of books that can be made private or public that you can add and remove books from. You could create a shelf for each of your classes with relevant books for each. You could create a shelf for recommended reading. Students could even create their own shelves to share with each other.

3. Save money

The Google Books catalogue is ENORMOUS. Some books are available in full as free eBooks, while others are available for preview (some previews actually offer very large portions of the book for free). So before you go out and buy a book for your class, take a quick look on Google Books and try before buy. You may even be pleasantly surprised to find that everything you need is available free in the preview.

4. Book reviews and contribution

Book reviews are a popular assignment to set students in English or Literature classes, but more often than not they go no further than the teacher’s desk. Try adding a bit more meaning to the assignment by having your students make their work public and contribute their review to the Google Books collection.

5. Books in blogs

One of the neatest features of Google Books is the ability to embed sections or clipping from a book into your own webpage. Students can use this to add credibility and reference to their own work as well as give readers direct access to their research material. A great example of collaborative digital tools use.


Links and Next Steps


Feature image adapted from image courtesy of Flickr, speedoflife.


  1. Thanks for this post: I am a HUGE FAN of Google Books. They have their drawbacks, to be sure, but they make up in abundance what they might lack in bibliographical niceties! I created an UnTextbook for my students in Mythology-Folklore class last summer, and you can see here the public domain book sources I relied on. Hathi Trust ended up being my best bet, but I also used Google Books:
    Thank you for sharing about Google Books here. I meet a lot of people who don’t seem to realize what an amazing resource it is.
    And check out Hathi Trust: it has so much to offer everybody!

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