Google

Download Google Books For Offline Reading

10 Ago/10

Google Books offers one of the largest collections of books online, divided into full books which are accessible from page one to the end, and book previews which are not accessible completely.

Up until now users have tried different ways to download those books to their computers and devices, largely to access them in an offline environment or on devices with an unreliable Internet connection.

The major problem that many Google Books user face is the difficulty in determining whether a books is offered as a full version or a preview only.

The only valid option to verify if the book is fully offered is to click through to the book’s page at Google Books.

The limitation of book previews is due to copyright law, and the preview pages have been made available by the book copyright holders. The number of permitted pages differs, and the rest will be omitted from the preview.

To sum it up to this point: Not all books can be downloaded completely, and those that can often make it more difficulty than necessary for the user.

Lets take a look at the options available:

1. Download Books Directly

Some books can be downloaded directly from Google Books in pdf or epub format. The availability of those books seems to be limited, but it is the best option if offered. An example would be Jack London’s The Call of the wild, which is accessible here.

Take a look at the Download link in the upper right corner of the screen. A click on Download offers to save the whole book in pdf or epub format.

download google books

download google books

Then again, most books cannot be downloaded directly. Here are programs, add-ons and other options to download Google Books books if no direct download link is offered.

2. Google Book Downloader (Firefox | Greasemonkey)

This Greasemonkey extension Google Book Downloader adds a Download this book button to the top left corner of individual book pages. A click on the button retrieves all book pages as single images. Those are not automatically downloaded to the local computer system, and users need to either move them into a download manager, or use a bulk image downloader like Down Them all or Flashgot to download all at once.

The extension works reasonable well, but requires manual processing of the images. Most users may want to create a pdf document out of the downloaded images to improve the accessibility. Windows users can check out Convert Photos to PDF for pointers.

We have described this method in detail at our download Google books guide.

3. Goo Reader (Windows | Limited)

Goo Reader is a Google Books Reader and downloader for Windows. The free version is limited to 40 results per search, which is not a big problem considering that searches can be refined until the desired results are included.

One interesting option is to check the option to only include books in the search results that offer full views. This sorts out all books that are only partially available. Each result is shown on a book shelf with its front cover, hovering the mouse over a cover displays various options, including the ability to read the book, or download it as a pdf document. The latter option is however only available in the commercial version of the program.

goo reader downloader

goo reader downloader

Goo Reader is only available for Windows, and requires the Microsoft .net Framework 3.5 SP1.

4. Google Book Downloader (Mac)

Google Book Downloader for Apple Macintosh systems offers a straightforward way of downloading books from Google’s service. It is a basic application that displays a simple form accepting book urls or IDs. A click on download displays the retrieved title of the book or magazine, and a proposed download location. A click on save will retrieve all pages of the selected book and compile it in a pdf document in the end for offline viewing purposes.

google book downloader

google book downloader

The application offers a few preferences, including the ability to set the width of the resulting document which can be very helpful if the device the book needs to be read on has limited screen estate available.

Google Book Downloader is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 and above, a download is provided at the project website.

5. The Manual Way (All browsers, all operating systems)

The manual approach is more time consuming than the others, but it will work regardless of the changes made to the Google Books service. Some programs or extensions may fail to work in the future if Google decides to change how the pages are delivered and displayed to the user.

Web browsers make use of a cache, often called the temporary Internet files, to speed up page loading times. Most websites have static elements like site logos or images that do not need to be downloaded separately on every page if they stay the same all the time.

The web cache speeds up page loading times by loading previously saved elements of a website from the hard drive, and not the server. If a user visits Google Books all pages of a book are stored in the cache for the very same reason.

This means that the pages have already been downloaded to the local system. All the user needs to do is located the pages, and copy them to another location.

The easiest way to do that is to clear the cache in the web browser prior to opening the book page at Google Books. This ensures that the book pages can be easily identified in the cache. (see Web Browser Maintenance for help on clearing the cache)

Load the Google Books page after clearing the cache. Make sure all pages have been loaded properly. Switch to the cache directory on the local hard drive and copy the images from the cache into another directory.

Some web browsers support the about:cache command, which displays the content’s of the cache in the web browser. Opera and Firefox do for instance.

opera cache

opera cache

google books cache

google books cache

The fallback method is to open the cache directory directly.

Verdict

Most books cannot be easily downloaded to a local PC. Users who really need to download a book will find a way. The Mac application seems to be the easiest to use right now, followed by the Greasemonkey script.

Many Google books downloader that we have reviewed in the past are no longer working. If you know of a method that has not been mentioned in this guide, let us know about it in the comments.


© Martin for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to del.icio.us, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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