A student’s appreciation for Google Books

One of the things I’ve always hated about writing essays is trying to find the material that I want to reference. Often, I know the basic gist of the excerpt I want to quote, I know it was in a specific section of the book, but I don’t remember exactly where it was or exactly what it said.

Today, I had exactly that happen. I was writing a paper on Corporate Social Responsibility for the Ethics course I am taking this quarter. At some point early on in the text, I am certain that the author said something about people starting businesses because they believe in the product or service rather than to get rich.

I wanted to use that quote in my paper but I’m horrible about highlighting (I either over do it or under do it). I flipped through the book without finding that I’d highlighted the quote, and then went directly to Google books and typed the ISBN of from my textbook in the search box.

Google books, being the amazing Google search engine that it is then allowed me to search within the book. I searched every key word from what I remembered of the statement. With each search the results would display a snippet of the text from where the word or phrase was found.  If the publisher has given Google permission to share the full text, the preview can be clicked to show the full context. If not, at least you have the page number so you can find the quote in your physical book.

In the past, this has saved me countless hours of flipping through book after book . Trying to find that one pesky quote from three quarters ago that I really wanted to use. Trying to find a chapter from a book that I read two years ago that might be relevant for this paper. Even when I’ve read something for school that would be great to share with a coworker.

Today, Google Books didn’t help me find that one special quote. On the bright side, searching for what I thought the quote was helped save me from misquoting based upon memory.

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