How useful do you think Google Books is? Personally, I find it really useful – not only for discovering new books and reading books that are in the public domain, but also for getting limited previews of books that aren’t yet open for free reading. We have seen how you can make use of limited previews in a previous post on 10 Ways to Use Google Books for Lifelong Learning and Research .
Any self-respecting online book site should have that feature. Editorial reviews aren’t enough. A book lover needs to know if the author’s writing style goes with the reader’s reading style. We also need to know if the content really matches the hype surrounding the book.
So, let’s not judge a book by its covers. Here are five websites that let you read sample chapters and excerpts online.
Google Books like the other services from Google is almost in your face. So, why not use it its preview (limited or full) feature to the hilt. Google Books has a great full-text book search and its Library Project where it partners with some of the best libraries in the world will make book search only better. There are nearly 20,000 publishers and authors under the umbrella of Google Books and most titles give you a handful of pages to check out before you decide to buy the book or save it for a better one. Also, from what’s being heard, very soon out-of-print books will also be made available for preview and purchase through Google Books. Not all books will give you a preview, but the ones that do are worth a turn of the page.
The other great name when it comes to books and sundry other items. Amazon has turned an upward curve with Kindle and eBooks. If you are a regular on Amazon’s online bookstore, you couldn’t have missed the “Look Inside” link just above the book covers. The little sticker is a part of Amazon’s Search Inside program. The tool allows you to search and browse millions of books across Amazon.com. You can set up a search based on every word and key phrase inside a book, not just for the book title or the author. As the screenshot shows, there are many ways to look into the content of a book. Then you can dive into Amazon Reader, and preview publisher-provided sample pages, go to linked book sections, or look for all references to a term or phrase.
Book Daily [No Longer Available]
Book Daily is specifically about book samples for book lovers. With 80,000 books and their first chapters on offer, I would say that this is a great site to bookmark if you want to grab hold of clues on what to read next. One of our readers mentioned it in the comments on my previous article – 5 Websites That Alert Book Lovers About New Book Releases . The site is slick and uncluttered, so grab a mug of coffee, open up a book and read the first chapter. By the end of it, you would have found that if it’s a page turner.
DailyLit is another book site you should bookmark, not only because it is one of the few that lets you read books by email , but also because the book site also gives you many titles for free. Their sponsorship program enables them to do that and send you scheduled emails so that you can finish a copyrighted book from your inbox. Unlike book sites with sample chapters, DailyLit really takes you through the whole hog of finishing a book in installments.
Try before you buy, goes the catchphrase of this well-known publisher’s Browse Inside service. The sneak peek tool lets you flip pages starting from the table of contents, search inside, and also share it with friends if you like the book. The tool is just as cool as the one from Amazon – in fact I found it to be slicker.
Online previews replicate the feeling of paging through a book in a bookstore. Well, not exactly, because sometimes you have a cup of coffee to go along with it. I am not complaining because online book stores give you some social joys but they can’t win all the battles when it comes to the convenience of buying and reading books. If you are a book lover, what’s your take on this? Do you know of any other book preview websites?