So – what are Google Books?

A great source modeling for just about anything can be found using Google Books. If a book is out of copyright and in the public domain, the book is fully available to read or download. In-copyright books scanned are available for snippet view. There is a trick to finding information you can view and download from Google Books. First get to the Google Books search page … the URL is simply https://books.google.com .. you can also get there by clicking the Google Apps link in your browser and finding books.

Zeroing in

Since we as modelers want to see and download ‘stuff’ .. let’s zero in on that. The search box is a standard Google search box with a “Books” tucked in under the Google. In the search box enter what you are looking for. For this I am entering “Locomotives” (without the quotes). I am being purposely vague to illustrate how to narrow the search. In this case I got “About 28,500,000 results”.The results are all over the place. At the top of the page under the search box you will see .. “All News Images Videos Books More Settings Tools”

    1. Click “Tools” on the far right. You will get a second line with “Any books ▼ Any document ▼ Any time ▼ Sorted by relevance ▼”
    2. Click the drop down on Any Books ▼ and select “Free Google eBooks”. Now .. what you can see are in the public domain and can be viewed and downloaded (well .. in the US .. if you are living in another country the copyright laws change and you may not be able to download. I guess you could spoof a URL but that would be wrong.)
    3. If you want to narrow the search down further you can click the Any Time ▼ drop down. You can select from 21st century, 20th century, 19th century and Custom range. One trick there is if you first click say – 19th century and then go back and click the Any Time, Google has pre-filled the Any Time with “From 1/1/1800 To 12/31/1899” allowing you to put in exact From and To dates.

In any case now we have a list of books with locomotive in the title during the 19th century. This is pretty vague if interesting so I changed the search to Narrow Gauge Locomotives. The earlier selection of Free Google eBooks and 19th century remain selected. The very first book shown is “Dimensions, Weights, & Tractive Power of Narrow-gauge Locomotives” – Baldwin Locomotive Works, published 1877.

Adding to your Library

You can view the book as you wish but there are a couple more things you can do. Click on the cover to open up the book. At the top of the page you will see “Add to my library” .. that’s cool .. create your own virtual library. On the far right is a gear icon with a drop down. From There you can download the book in PDF. There are other icons but they are mostly self-explanatory. Above all, simply have fun!

Here is my Library on Google Books

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