They are scanning in library books, and allowing users to search them. However, only a small section of text around the search term is displayed, unless the publisher allows more. And there will be links to purchase the book.
It’s not comparable, as some have claimed, to p2p. You won’t be able to read entire books this way.
Google’s comparing it to a Library Card Catalog, which isn’t accurate either. Most card catalogs I’m familiar with allow you to search by author or title.
This would allow me to conduct a search for vampire pickles, and discover any book in their catalog with both of those words in it within whatever proximity is required.
There are no books in their library yet with the phrase, but there are a few that have both of the terms. Including a work of fiction with this wonderful dialogue â€œVampire, get me a double cheeseburger, no pickles.â€ And Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”, which has ‘pickles’ on page 101 and ‘vampire’ on page 102.
An excellent research tool.