Google book is pretty astounding. It will completely change the way
we do historical research, at least when it comes to published
materials. Unfortunately, because of the copyright issue, it will
impact film studies far more slowly than other fields that reach
further back in time.
I'm not sure what your problems are, but take this as an example.
It's semi-tricky, so useful. Go to Google Book (you may need to sign
up for a Google account, if you don't have one). Once you're at the
search page, type: "munsterberg hugo photoplay"
A list of hits comes back. You'll see the Dover edition of the
Munsterberg book from 1970, but if you click it you'll only get
"limited preview". This means that it serves up only bits and pieces
of the book because it's still under copyright. You're supposed to go
out and buy it to see more. (Even in this mode, you can often search
the book and get specific page numbers to consult once you get to the
library—great for books that are poorly indexed)
However, Dover obviously didn't purchase the exclusive rights,
because Google has scanned in the original publication from 1916. In
my list of hits, it's the second one. Click that and you get the
cover page. A list of links on the right includes one to download a
pdf of the entire book. You can also search for words and phrases
through out the book. Try typing "harmony" and you'll see what I mean.
Some of the scans leave something to desired, and wonder who will
ever go back and correct them. However, generally the quality is very
good. I taught New World last year and used Google Book to track down
some interesting contemporary writings on Pocahontas. It was amazing
how easy it was to cull fascinating and useful writings.
Using Google Book reminds me what it felt like using my first
computerized card catalog at the library.
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