From the Mailbag: Blending books when you want them

Thursday, March 05, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Welcome to another edition of "From the Mailbag," where we respond to emails from Google Book Search users. This week's message comes from Michael, who writes:
I love Google Books. [But] when I'm looking for a book and I do a Google search on it (a regular Google search, not specifically in Books), why doesn't Google "find itself"? Is it because it's in Beta? I'd rather have it pop up at the top of a Google Search as opposed to having to make a "special" search at

Thanks for the insightful question, Michael. Deciding which type of content to show in results for a specific search term is an interesting and challenging question. When you search for a term and a book is the best source of information, we want you to be able to find it easily.

Say, for example, you type "Shakespeare" in to Google. Are you looking for biographical details about the playwright, a picture of the man, videos of performances of his works, or to read and buy a copy of one of his works? This is the kind of challenge in ranking search results that is exciting for our teams to tackle.

When searching on our homepage,, you are directly searching the text of over 7 million books. For searches on, we will blend books into search results when we think it fits the query. In fact, this blending of results in is the largest driver of book views and traffic.

If you search for a specific book on, such as The War of the Worlds, the cover of the book and a link to a Book Search result appears in the top results. Similarly, if you search for a specific author, such as Octavia Butler or Geoffrey Chaucer we'll provide you with a cluster of their books in your results. Book results also come up for general search terms when they are the best fit, such as "organizing your sock drawer."

On a separate note, the Google Scholar team also blends book results into their scholarly material search results. Google Scholar is a search tool for finding academic literature which is available and indexed online. Some of this content is found on Google Book Search, so for certain queries like "Albert Einstein," Google Scholar will show book results too.

We are continually working on better ways to surface relevant book results on your searches, along with new functionalities when viewing books on Google Book Search.


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