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One of the most attractive features of Google Books is the ability to read complete magazine archives there. At the moment, the selection isn’t too astounding (no “Playboy” available – I checked!) but neverthess there are still some nice ones there which shows that the magazine selection which has been scanned into Google is the beginning of something promising.

At the moment, I am working my way through Men’s Health but there is also Best Life (thanks to The Art Of Manliness for pointing this one out), Popular Science, Mountain Bike, New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Women’s Health, Bicycling Magazine, American Cowboy, Maximum PC, the list just goes on and on.

All you need to do is just go to the Google Books website and type in a name of a magazine and click “search books”.

When the results come back, the books and the magazines will all be thrown in together. If your magazine is a bit of an obscure one (say “Leather Skateboarder” or “Housekeeping Hedgehogs”), you may have trouble finding it. So you need to filter the results down to “full view” then look for results with “magazine” in them.

Bear in mind though that Google has only scanned a few magazines so far and so your favourite magazine may probably not be there yet. But it’s worth taking a couple of minutes to check.

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When you do find you want, just double-click it and this is what appears (I’ll be using Men’s Health from now on as this is what I have open at the moment) :

What opens is basically a stripped down basic Google equivalent of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Its only function and intention is to allow you to flip through the pages of the magazine and no more. By using the two blue arrows in the top right hand corner, you can go from page to page and read the magazine, no limitations whatsoever.

There are several features which I think are extremely useful :

  • A magnifying glass – by clicking on the magnifying glass, the magazine gets bigger on your screen. The other magnifying glass makes the magazine smaller. Excellent tool for people with eyesight problems (or for when they finally get around to putting Maxim magazine online!)
  • Go double – You can have a single page on the screen at one time or have two pages on the screen at one time. You choose.
  • Full screen – you can choose to remove the Google sidebar, header and footer and go full screen with your magazine.
  • Jump to a certain page – if you want to jump to a certain page to see a certain feature, just type in the page number and you’ll be taken straight there.
  • Search within the magazine – Every word on every page is searchable.   So if you’re looking for something in particular, enter a keyword on the search engine on that page.   You’ll then get search results returned giving you the page numbers where that keyword is mentioned. No more random flipping looking for a story!

Now how do you access the complete archive for that magazine? Easy. At the top of the page, you’ll see this :

Click on “about this magazine” and this takes you to the archive among other things.

This page gives you a whole wealth of information about the magazine including the keywords for the magazine, the ISSN number, who publishes it, the date and number of the last issue, links to all the scanned issues and even a Google map showing all the places mentioned in the issues! (not sure how useful THAT is). If you decide to work your way through all the issues, this would be the page to bookmark in your browser.

As I said, hopefully Google will start to scan some of the REALLY big magazines fairly soon such as National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Time, Newsweek, and so on, and really make this archive something special. But so far, it’s off to an impressive start.

Why don’t you start searching for your favourite magazines and let us know in the comments what you were able to find? Are you aware of any other sites to read magazines online? Lets us know in comments!

  1. Heather
    February 1, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    They have Popular Science from 1870-2008!
    Also Yoga Journal since 1937 and Popular Mechanics from 1942.

  2. Vijay
    January 29, 2009 at 11:27 am

    You can find all the issues of (since 2000) Maximum PC (Full View) here.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=L9IDAAAAMBAJ

  3. Dave P
    January 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Actually, if you go to advanced search, you can specify 'magazines' and 'full view' as part of your original search. You can also specify if your search should only include words in the title of the magazine (e.g. 'science' in the title returns Popular Science) or anywhere in the magazine.

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 29, 2009 at 8:03 am

      Thanks! I missed that one! :-)

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