Big G rolled out improvements to its book-searching tool today, and the changes are many. A new thumbnail view of results can give you an overview of an entire magazine, page by page. Public domain materials are now available in plain-text format, suitable for copying and pasting or to feed into screen readers for the visually impaired.
A revamped book-reading interface for the books Google has the right to show in their entirety make Google Books nearly as intuitive as the Amazon
But above all, the new and improved service draws on the social aspects of Google's YouTube video service. Now it's quick and easy to share pages or chapters of a book in your blog post or Twitter tweet. An improved full-text search also helps you find the clips you want or need.
And the pages of results are generously peppered with context-sensitive ads. Leafing through Philip Toshio Sudo's Zen Guitar, I was offered guitar lessons in Tampa, discounts on Electronic Arts'
Sure, it's simply a new way to integrate the classic AdSense advertising platform into everything Google does. But add in the viral nature of easy social platform links, and you have a dynamite combination. It doesn't work quite as well on YouTube because videos demand your full attention in a way that plain words on a page cannot.
Google has enlisted the help of partners like Princeton, Harvard, and the New York Public Library System to scan every available ounce of written-word content into Google's databases. I'd love to see Yahoo!
Google Books may not ever be the biggest money-maker in Mountain View, but it can certainly pull its own weight and then some. And it's just one more example of how Google can make money from organizing the world's information and making it accessible and useful.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.