Google pushed out a new "Featured Content" layer today called "Google Book Search". This layer, when you turn it on, shows little book icon placemarks when you zoom into different places around the world. You don't have to enter a place into the search, just browse places and the placemarks will appear. These placemarks are results from search of places found mentioned in books indexed by Google's search engine. For famous places like "Rome", you will see a huge array of icons in a series of concentric circles. Each icons shows the results of that city mentioned in a particular book. There may be dozens of such references, but you you can click on a summary link that will take you straight to the book search results on a web page.
Google Earth Blog - New Google Earth Book Search Layer
This is very cool, but there are still loads of problems.
Click the book in the centre of the Ottawa ring
and you get The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, which is all very grand. The hits are for Nepean, which is indeed an Ottawa suburb. A suburb named for Sir Evan Nepean. Unfortunately, Nelson is writing TO him, in his early days as Evan Nepean, Esq. Nelson isn't writing about the town of Nepean at all.
Scanning the table of contents for the book points out another issue, which is that Google's digitisation is far from perfect, e.g. page xi where the left-hand side is cut off, losing about 10 characters.
Problems aside, it does turn up gems like Hudson's Bay: Or, Every-Day Life In the Wilds of North America by Robert Michael Ballantyne (1859)
On Sunday the 19th of October we commenced descending the magnificent river Ottawa, and began to feel that we were at last approaching the civilised nations of the earth.
January 29, 2007 Google geobooking
January 12, 2006 libraries as warehouses of dead paper: set your books electronically free