Saturday, August 29, 2009

Read foreign-language Google-books in English online

This article started as a forum-post in reply to the question:
  "Can you guys post any good books you're finding through Google? Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I can't find anything decent."
  Several other forum members had the same experience when trying to find books that interested them.

  I think it's that Kindle users have already found so many good public domain books or "classics" (for free or under $1) just on Amazon alone (7,000+) and then at Project Gutenberg (30,000), MobileReference, feedbooks, ( direct-to-Kindle), fictionwise, etc., that most we'll find now are duplicates.

  I hadn't looked, beyond doing the blog-entry the other day about converting Google ePub public-domain books to Kindle-readable ones.

  I just now went to Google Books and, from the categories shown at the left column there, I chose "Literature."

  This brought up the first-30 of 1,805 results under that 'literature' category.

  Seeing all the attractive, colorful pictures of covers that resulted, I realized these probably include a lot of books that are being SOLD rather than just free public domain ones.
  Looking up at the pull-down menu, I saw that it said:
      "Showing: Limited preview and fullview"
  which means this search result includes books you have to buy.

  So, I changed the pull-down menu to the choice:
      "Showing: Full view only"
  (which is available only for free, public domain books and magazines).
  And then, most of the covers seen now were the plain, generic types, for the most part, and included books in other languages.
  They should have searches limitable to a certain language!

  Even then, this resulted in only 42 books, with maybe half or more of them in other languages.  I realize Google said they included libraries from all over the world, but ...

  THEN I changed the pull-down menu to show the option:
      "Showing: All books"
  This got me some rather esoteric selections. Since I love the singing of a baritone named William Sharp, I whimsically clicked on a book on the front page (that claimed 4,424 books listed) titled:
      "The sexual tensions of William Sharp"   :-)
  and saw the following description of that book (excerpted below)
Title   The sexual tensions of William Sharp: a study of the birth of Fiona Macleod, incorporating two lost works, Ariadne in Naxos and "Beatrice"
Volume 2 of Studies in nineteenth-century British literature
Volume 2 of Studies in Modern Poetry
Author Terry L. Meyers
Publisher P. Lang, 1996
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Mar 13, 2008"

So, I guess these million books include esoteric academic treatments of various topics, not a bad feature! and generally not available in the usual public domain offerings elsewhere.  They also include old magazines.

Note that there are a lot of categories on the front page's left column.  Also, the front page displays an assortment of the type of books or magazines available and are grouped in the following way:

Highly cited
Random Subject - (This changes each time -- was "Alcoholics Fiction")

TRANSLATING books written in another language:
SO, I decided to go back to 'Literature" and see if I could produce a Google translation of one of these books written in another language, and sure enough Google has made it possible, although there is currently no option saying "translate" on the page.

I chose one of the Italian books on the front page of the public-domain books search-results:
  "Scritti letterari di un Italiano vivente (1847) by Giuseppe Mazzini "

  I browsed through it until I came to a page that began with a new paragraph which I thought would be a good example for a translation.  I chose page 24.

  In our case, knowing which page we want, we don't have to tediously arrow through each page.  You can just enter '24' in the input box there, press your Enter key, and it'll take you to page 24.

 What you'll see there is the scanned image that Google made from that page.

  But they also give us the option to see this in "Plain text" -- so I clicked on that option above the text.

 This took me to the version showing the plain text from pages 20-24 (see top left there).

  In the web browser's URL/or Location Field, the long URL for the plain-text Italian version was:

  SO, I did a Ctrl-N for a new Window (or Ctrl-Tab in Firefox for a new TAB) and that brought up a window in which I could put in the URL (below) to be taken to Google's Translation page, which is at

    At Google's translation page, I put the full, long URL for the Italian book's "plain text" version of the page -- which gives us text from pages 20-24 -- into the "Translate a web page" feature at the bottom left of the Google translation page.
  Then I chose Italian to English below that input box and clicked on "Translate"...

  That brought me to Google's book again, this time displaying pages 20-24 in English.

    Here's an image of what I saw.

  Remember that this is an automated and usually somewhat-primitive web-translation, but it definitely gives you the gist of what is being said.

  When your mouse hovers for a bit over the translated text, Google shows you the original-language's text for that small area and asks if you'd like to contribute a better translation for it.  If you do, you click on that to put your suggestion into the pop-up input box.

  I then scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked on "Continue" at the bottom right.

  This brought up pages 25-29 translated into English also, and it goes on like that throughout the rest of the book if you like.

  Really nice ! Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

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1 comment:

  1. I can't find the option for plain text where is it on the google books link
    I am trying to translate something into vietnamese for my relatives


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