Saturday, September 27, 2008

Google Books

Today I thought I would write about Google Books. Google is trying to amass a number of free downloadable books in full text. Most of these books are classics and some like Animal Farm are still being used in our English classes today.

Now the reason that I'm writing about this is that I'm thinking that there is a practical use for these online books:
1. If you are studying one of these books in class, then students can't use the excuse of forgetting the text at school and not doing homework - the book is online.
2. A student doesn't have to cart the text home - the book is online.
3. A student can't complain that the book from school (which is 20 years old) is falling apart - the book is online.
4. Now this is the cool part but one I'm having trouble with. Google Operating System blog has some code listed that can be used to actually embed these books into a wiki or a blog. If you had a library wiki you could create a page that housed a collection of classic texts or if you had an English class blog you could have access to the book right on the blog.

Apparently, you just have to copy the html code and then substitute the book id into a part of it and - Bob's your uncle - the actual book pops up in its full version that you can read right from the page you put it on. Joyce Valenza says that it's fairly simple and really, it looked simple. I've embedded code into my wikis and blogs and it usually works fine.

However, this time it isn't and I don't know if its me or Blogger or Wikispaces 'cause I can't get the darned thing to embed.

I'm nothing but persistent. I left a comment on Joyce's blog and sure enough, within 24 hours she responded (I wasn't sure what part of the book's URL held the book id that I had to insert and both Joyce and another reader who also got this thing to work helped me out). So I'm thinking that if they could do it, I could do it. I also read the comments on the Google Operating System blog and tried to do what they said as well. Honestly, I tried to get the code all on one line by doing what they said but Blogger wouldn't let me. I was so much into the flow of trying to get this to work that I lost track of time and was almost late for a wedding (not mine - I sing at these things sometimes).

To make a long story short, I still can't seem to get it. So this entry is minus the book that I was planning to embed. If anyone is able to do it, let me know how.

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