The Google Books project is an exciting new chapter in the world’s digitization of printed materials together with the Gutenberg project. I have blogged at Frog in a Well – Korea about some old English-language works on Korea that are available for download in text form from the latter. On my own weblog I have expressed some frustration with the limits imposed by Google Books on the viewing of works which are not protected by copyright here.
There has been a recent piece of news about the Google Books project which was announced on the Google Books own weblog here at the end of August. Many books that can be found on Google Books, which are out of copyright (or rather, which Google has decided to treat in that manner), can now be completely downloaded in PDF format.
Some notes about this feature:
1) The downloaded work is an image PDF, usually 1-15MB in size. The text metadata for each book is not in the downloaded document. This means you cannot search for text within the document once it is downloaded, but must return to Google Books in order to search the contents.
2) Some books which a) are no longer protected by copyright b) Google recognizes as no longer being protected by allowing you to browse an unlimited number of pages from the work are strangely not available for download. For example, Miyakawa, Masuji’s My Life in Japan, published in the United States in 1907 can be fully viewed online and is not protected by copyright, cannot be downloaded as of today.
3) Many of the old books, especially those which cannot be downloaded despite their lack of copyright coverage, have huge “Image Not Available” error messages where the pages should be. Strangely, you can still search the text metadata for these books and return results. Clicking on the search result pages, however, will simply show “Image Not Available.” Other books have some pages missing but some showing.
4) As I have discussed elsewhere, some books which cannot possibly be covered by copyright are only shown in “snippet mode” and in some cases, searching their contents returns completely unexplainable and mistaken results. For example, the 1910 Highways and Homes of Japan by lady Kate Lawson is bizarrely shown only in snippet mode and as this snapshot shows, searching for “Japan” within the book gives completely wrong results.
5. The page images for tables of contents are in many cases hyperlinked. You can click directly on chapter titles in the table of contents to jump to that chapter.
How to search for books related to China that are out of copyright:
The easiest way is to search for something specific on the Google Books web site. However, that will return mostly results that are still protected by copyright. See this excellent summary of copyright protection at Cornell for how to determine roughly if something is protected that was published in the United States. All things published in the United States before 1923, regardless, are now in the public domain, no exceptions. There is no reason Google should restrict access to those materials insofar as it assumes visitors are viewing the content in the United States (its website says as much in its warning to those outside the US).
IN TITLE – If you want to search for something in the title, either use the “Advanced Search” link or simply precede your search with “intitle:” For example: intitle:China or intitle:”Treaty Ports in China”
BY DATE – To restrict yourself to the period when all books are in the public domain, you can specify a date year range using “date:” So for example: date:1800-1922. You can also specifi “Full view books” in the advanced search page to see only results in books that can be fully viewed.
So searching for books with China in the title, published from 1700-1922 can be found by entering: intitle:China date:1700-1922
Some examples of books that can be downloaded completely, just by searching for those with China in the title (including Dewey’s letters from Japan and China):
An Historical, Geographical, and Philosophical View of the Chinese Empire: Comprehending a…
By William Winterbotham 1795
Odes to Kien Long: The Present Emperor of China; with The Quakers, a Tale; To a Fly, Drowned in a…
By Peter Pindar 1792
Problems of the Far East: Japan, Korea, China
By George Nathaniel Curzon 1894
China, Captive Or Free?: A Study of China’s Entanglements
By Gilbert Reid 1921
A Wayfarer in China: Impressions of a Trip Across West China and Mongolia
By Elizabeth Kimball Kendall 1913
The China Martyrs of 1900: A Complete Roll of the Christian Heros Martyred in China in 1900
By Robert Coventry Forsyth 1904
Railway Enterprise in China
By Percy Horace Braund Kent 1907
Treaty Ports in China: A Study in Diplomacy
By En-Sai Tai 1918
Ordered to China: Letters of Wilbur J. Chamberlin Written from China While Under Commission from…
By Wilbur J. Chamberlin 1903
Religion in China: Containing a Brief Account of the Three Religions of the Chinese with…
By Joseph Edkins 1893
The People of China: Their Country, History, Life, Ideas, and Relations with the Foreigner
By J. W. (John William) Robertson Scott 1900
Opium-smoking in America and China
By H. H. (Harry Hubbell) Kane 1882
Rambles in Central China
By W. Arthur (William Arthur) Cornaby 1896
Old China and Young America
By Sarah (Pike) Conger 1913
China Through the Stereoscope: A Journey Through the Dragon Empire at the Time of the Boxer…
By James Ricalton 1901
Buddhism in China
By Samuel Beal 1884
The Provinces of Western China
By Pruen 1906
The Great Empress Dowager of China
By Philip Walsingham Sergeant 1911
One of China’s Scholars: The Culture & Conversion of a Confucianist
By Howard Taylor 1904
Letters from China and Japan
By John Dewey, Harriet Alice Chipman Dewey 1920
The Taeping Rebellion in China: Its Origins, Progress, and Present Condition
By W. H. (William Henry) Sykes 1863
The Diseases of China, including Formosa and Korea
By W. Hamilton (William Hamilton) Jefferys 1910
Five Years in China: From 1842 to 1847
By Frederick E. (Frederick Edwyn) Forbes 1848
The Manchus, Or The Reigning Dynasty of China: Their Rise and Progress
By John Ross 1891
Contributions towards the materia medica & natural history of China
By F. Porter (Frederick Porter) Smith 1871
A Retrospect of the First Ten Years of the Protestant Mission to China: (now, in Connection with…
By William Milne 1820
The Jesuits in China and the Legation of Cardinal de Tournon: An Examination of Conflicting…
By Robert C. (Robert Charles) Jenkins 1894