A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books

If you’re looking for something new to read that may be out of the ordinary, try this neat search tool that pulls books pre-1927 public domain.

via Clive Thompson

Behind the scenes, here’s what it’s doing, which is pretty simple: i) You type in a query, and ii) my app sends it to Google Books, and filters the results for pre-1927 public domain. Then iii) it picks one at random and displays it to you.

Now, relying on Google Books is not a great way to build a tool like this. For starters, the Google Books API only returns a maximum of 40 books, and sometimes your search query will only match maybe ten or nine books. So if you repeat a query a few times, you’ll likely see the same books crop up.

But overall, it does what I wanted it to. I can open it up, throw in a search term, and within seconds be flipping through a weird old book.

Read more.


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