Monday, July 07, 2008

A Little Quality Control, Please?

Miriam Elizabeth Burstein on the trouble with Google Books:

Google Books is digitizing books badly. The scans can be blurry, distorted, or chopped in half--and scanning problems affect the search function. There are books missing their first page. There are books missing their last page. There are books missing random chunks of pages. There are books with pages in the wrong order. There are inconsistencies (are triple-deckers scanned as one volume? As three?). And, of course, there is the sheer and utter uselessness of snippet view. (I just suffered through yet another snippet view that landed me in the margin. You know, the blank space on the page.) From an academic POV, this lack of interest in anything resembling quality control is not a minor glitch or superficial inconvenience.

As I've said on more than one occasion, I'm completely enamored with the idea of Google Books, and I have found all sorts of potentially wonderful material by using it. But far too much of that potentially wonderful material remains just that--potentially wonderful.

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