Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Google Book exchange?

Just thinking out loud.

Since I deal with many people who don't live in the United States, I've long realized that many books which are freely available on Google Books are not available outside our land of the free books. (In theory any pre-1923 book which Google has scanned ought to be available according to American copyright laws. Since Mickey Mouse was invented in 1928, Disney makes sure that the copyright status of works created after 1923 are much more stringent.)

However, Google errs on the side of caution and countless books which you can download in America cannot be downloaded in Israel or Europe or Canada. But this is not in conforming with their copyright laws. They're just not available, and probably never will. Worse, I have found that many outside the U.S. do not even realize this. I was thinking, what if there was some location where people outside the United States can ask if such-and-such book, which they cannot download in their country, were available on Google? Then an altruistic American could help them. Hm.


  1. Ya, do something to help your readers here in Israel.

  2. There are many proxy servers that someone could use, so Google would think you are in the US.

  3. Aren't they on

  4. The most sensible solution is to host an authenticated HTTP proxy for your trusted friends and apply a whitelist policy so it can only be used to view Google Books. You can also provide a WPAD file so they don't have to toggle their proxy settings every time they want to use Google books.

    I mean, that's what I would do.

  5. Hi-tech answers for low-tech people.

    Daniel, only a fraction are on It also doesn't support Hebrew searching. Put the word ספר into Google Books, full view, and you get countless thousands of results (if you search title:ספר you get hundreds). Put ספר into and you get nothing.

  6. Thanks so much for this post! Daniel, S. is correct. Many things are available at and it's sometimes helpful when Google isn't, but many other times the books are not available.

    As for a solution, I think the best way would be a Judaica forum where disadvantaged Israelis and Jewish Europeans could ask their well-meaning co-religionists in the USA to download public domain books from Google for them, and then upload them at a well-supported central site designed for public hosting with free access.

    I can think of two such locations: (as already mentioned) and the Wikimedia Commons (

    As for a central forum for people to make Judaica requests, would S. be willing to consider this excellent blog? :-)

    Shabbat Shalom



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