Whilst at university, I was time poor and cash poor! I am not exactly sure where “time rich” came from, but that certainly was not the case for me, and most of my fellow class mates to boot. So, basically I was struggling to keep up with the expense of my growing book list, it was becoming a bit of a hindrance to be honest, I started to seek cheaper alternatives! In my cost cutting quest I had found an excellent resource, well except from the library of course, but this life saving resource is called Google Books. 

What is Google Books? 

Google basically provides a database of books in which individuals are able to read sections of books, and if you so wish, you have the choice to purchase them. Previously Google Books was known as Google Book Search and also Google Print. They use a complex scanning technique called optical character recognition to scan books and magazines, and these scans are stored on their enormous database in which we are all free to access. Basically there are three categories win which a book can come into “preview”, “snippet” and “full view” each with varying permissions. 

How to use Google Books 

So Google Books is quite simple to use, do a normal search for “Google Books” on your preferred search engine, and you will be shown the Google Books home screen (see picture 1). Search for your selected key phrase and don’t forget that search queries can be modified to be more specific using speech marks (“”). 

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My strategy is generally to research around the topic of interest first, for example branding. I want to find out what branding is, and how it works, who are the main authors in the field, so how would I begin my quest? Well I would begin by reviewing the literature, and I would do this by searching for the term “Branding” and then viewing the results (see picture 2). The results are similar to what you would find in the normal search engine results pages, a title and small snippet of what the book is about. Information that is also included is the author and the date of the publication; therefore, you are able to make an informed decision about how useful the text is. 

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Once I have read into the topic a little, I will then delve a little deeper into the topic, so for example, I have found that Aaker is a major author within the branding world and that he developed the “Brand Equity Model”. 

 This is something that I would like to focus on and expand my knowledge of which leads me to my next search (see picture 3). 

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From this I can then develop my essay and explore some of the topics around the Aaker model, if I want to look at some of the failings then simple. Just use a keyword that would lead you to find the appropriate answer such as “limitations” “failings” “challenges” or a variety of others (see picture 4). 

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Is using Google Books legitimate and can I reference it?

Yes to both, Google Books offers all of the information that you would, if you select a book in which you have used, scroll to the first couple of pages, and there you have all of the author and publisher information that you require (see picture 5)! We have the publisher name and address, the date, the authors name and the name of the publication – basically everything that you need for a reference! As long as you reference the book, it is a completely legitimate source of information. 

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I hope that you have found this article useful, it certainly helped me though my time at university, it is a tried and well tested method, so go on and give it a go. 

google booksJames King is a student advisor and is offering advice in clearing in 2013.  James is a writer and blogger and student advisor.  He is continually engaging with the student fraternity both online and off-line. He aims to improve the welfare of students in general, and if at all possible pass on tips and advice that I have garnered over the years.

google books