Google and virtual bookshelf

Lorcan 2 min read

SEO by the Sea wonders about Google’s plans for what it calls a ‘virtual bookshelf site’. It presents a list of 13 such sites, from GoodReads to BookJetty.
It then reviews a pretty interesting patent application from Google.

A patent application for a virtual bookshelf program from Google was published last month, and it provides us with a chance to see how Google might integrate its book search, and Google Books Library Project with a personal library feature that allows us to show the books that we’ve read, share reviews with others, and track and find books that we might want to read in the future. [Google’s Virtual Bookshelf Plans? -SEO by the SEA]

Some of this is familiar stuff ….

If they don’t own a specific book, they can search the web, as well as other Google virtual bookshelves – including the shelves of libraries – to find out more about those books, and perhaps to purchase books from online sellers. [Google’s Virtual Bookshelf Plans? -SEO by the SEA]

It talks about shared ‘community’ virtual bookshelves; the fact that ‘book’ could encompass other resource types, physical and digital; creating metadata for the books, or using metadata from Google Book Search; control of access to third parties; and visual or audible cues about what is on the bookshelf.
There is mention of a search interface to other sources including “the electronic libraries available to the organization of which the user is associated”.
He quotes some potential uses from the actual patent application itself.

In this fashion, virtual lending libraries and cooperatives can be created online. It also allows for all types of sharing arrangements, such as a professor having a virtual bookshelf accessible to all of the students of a course so that the assigned course readings are on the virtual bookshelf for the course and contained physically in a university lending library or course bookshelf. A similar approach can be used for business and technical teams that span several virtual bookshelves of physical collections of books spaced apart geographically or stored electronically on different servers. [Google’s Virtual Bookshelf Plans? -SEO by the SEA. Quote from US Patent Application 20080114729.]

This is all pretty interesting. Of course, we do not know if Google actually plans to build this service. There are many ‘virtual bookshelf sites’, and then there are book swapping, reading, and other related sites. Will these consolidate into a smaller number? And if Google does move in this direction, how many of them would fade in its shadow? I was surprised not to see mention of how these ‘social bibliography’ sites might interact with ‘social bookmarking’ types of application also already flourishing as Google would be well placed also to span them (I have not read the application itself).
Here are the details of the patent application:

Computer-implemented interactive, virtual bookshelf system and method

Invented by T.V. Raman, M.S. Krishnamoorthy

Assigned to Google

US Patent Application 20080114729

Published May 15, 2008

Filed November 13, 2006

[Google’s Virtual Bookshelf Plans? -SEO by the SEA]

Update: I was just adding a sentence above saying that Mylibrary did a little of what was discussed here already when Bill Slawsky, author of SEO by the Sea, left a comment saying much the same. I have no sense of how much this is used.

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