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Google Books - "My Library" search disappears

 10:19 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

For a while, it looked like book search was on an uninterrupted upward slope, improving in pretty much every way at a rapid pace - more books, more competitors, more search options.

Not so long ago (2007), Microsoft was saying they were going to go head to head with Google (Microsoft to Step up Book Search Tools [webmasterworld.com]). 750,000 books indexed. Less than a year later, they were gone [bing.com].

No matter, Google's book search was by itself improving in every way. More books. The OCR seemed to be getting better.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I logged in and I can no longer restrict my search results to items in My Library.

For me, this is the primary way I use Google Books. First search my library. If I don't find it, search more broadly. If I find something good in general search, add that book to my library. If you will, it's like manually controlled personalized search.

Why not start with the general search? Because I tend to use Google Books to research very specific topics and this lets me keep results focussed.

Anyway, I waited for the feature to come back, I searched Google help docs, I contacted Google support. At least for the time being, it's gone. Support promised that it would be back some day, but no timetable.

I'm hoping this will come back sooner rather than later. In the meantime, a powerful research tool that I've come to love is gone!

At this point, Google Books has almost no utility for me.




 5:19 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I still see the link when I'm logged in. I'm also seeing this message on the main page:

New! My Library has custom bookshelves with public and private options.


Did this new develop mess up your account, I wonder?


 5:37 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's strange. According to Google support, the feature was discontinued with the new Google Books interface, with plans to eventually bring it back.

Link? What's the link say? I'm used to radio box that lets me choose between searching just within My Library or all of Google Books.

At the top, when logged in, I have the search box and the Advanced Search link, but that doesn't allow me to search just my library.

And then I have the new bookshelves feature as the main content.

And finally, on the left, I have a sidebar that has my name, city, a "map" link, then icons for websites in my google profile, including using the favicon if there is one.

Then the next block down is My Library and has these links
My library

* Favorites
* Reading now
* To read
* Have read
* Reviewed

And that's it. No search within My Library.

If I'm not logged in and looking at My Library, I get a list of subjects to browse as well.


 6:42 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

You're right. I wasn't paying close enough attention.


 4:53 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>You're right

Foo! In this case, I was really, really hoping you were right and that there was an actual difference between our accounts, which would suggest something being rolled out already.

As I said... Sadness.

To me this has always been the second greatest, most useful feature of Google (after web search). Yup, I use image search, Google Analytics, Gmail. Maybe some others that I don't recall, but I was perfectly happy without them and, to be honest, I wouldn't really miss them that much. They all have reasonable equivalents.

Customized book search was literally something on my mental dream list for years (I'm a historian, right?) and when I finally got it, I couldn't believe it. Now that it's been taken away from me, I can't believe it either!

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