Finding and Reading Online Books & Periodicals
Online books are becoming more accessible, but not as fast as we want. It is still difficult to find the books and articles, and there are annoying restrictions, some of which can be got round.
Tyndale Toolbar is the place to start
Get it here
* in the Bibliog. tool, type a word or two of a title or subject
* if you want to constrain it to an author, type their surname only
* in the "Bibliog" dropdown pick the type of thing you want
Tubingen Article Search
* click on "Articles" on the Tyndale Toolbar Bibliog. search
* this searches 20,000 articles in hundreds of academic periodicals every year
* their Index theologicus (IxTheo) used to be on sale on CDs
* their search engine is very fast and very comprehensive
* I once typed my name in (the way you do) and it included two articles I'd forgotten about!
* it covers about the same number of periodicals as ATLA, though with some differences
* this has more non-English works and ATLA has more less-important English journals
(well, that's my judgment based on an unscientific comparison)
Theological Journal Search
* click on "... more" on the Tyndale Toolbar Bibliog. search
* this searches over 340 theology and Biblical journals using a specialist Google Custom Search
* all the journals are readable free online, and the list is updated
(this includes some popular Christian magazines and papers too)
* Sally Jo Shelton puts together this list
* this searches inside the articles as well as the title and subject data
* this means you'll get more false hits, but the text is all online so it is quick to check
JURN.org - Another useful Google Custom Search
* JURN.org searches nearly 4000 free ejournals in the arts & humanities with surprisingly useful results
* but you have to be fairly specific in your request, because most of the journals aren't theological.
* this is even less specific than JURN, but is sometimes useful
* by default it searches only "scholarly" sources, of all kinds
* click on "Advanced Search" and you can constrain it to looking for words in titles, and specific authors or dates
* it is especially good for periodicals if you networked to a large library
* click on "Scholar Preferences" (top right) and it will find library links
* this means it will find journals that your library subscribes to electronically.
* you can also create email alerts to tell you about new articles in your field
* but there is no way to constrain searches to Theology or Biblical studies,
(unlike various sciences, which have their own tickboxes in Google Scholar).
* click on "GoogleB" on the Tyndale Toolbar Bibliog. search
* Google books are great, but don't always contain the text you need
* public domain works (ie their copyright has lapsed) are there in full
(though some of these are restricted outside USA - see below for workarounds)
* for copyright works Google gives a "snippet view" - ie about 4 lines
(this is often enough to let you see if it will be useful or not. If it is, order a scan - see below)
* some wonderful publishers allow copyright books to be displayed in "Limited Preview", which means just 10% is missing
What if the pages you want are missing?
* try Amazon, who often have their own scan (Use TynCat for easy access - see below)
* try another day. Occasionally I've found that pages I've looked for previously weren't available, and then another time they are available. This suggests that Google has all the pages and uses some secret strategy to decide which pages to hide. Does anyone have insights into this?
* You can download GoogleBooks but this should only be done for those on full view (ie those without copyright control).
Tyncat for Amazon "Look inside"
Tyncat.com is the quickest way to locate the Amazon books
* if you go through Amazon, it is tedious finding out which books can be read,
and you have to go through various pages before you get the online copy
* TynCat marks which books are not available on Amazon, so you don't waste time
* and it takes you straight to the online reader, bypassing the Amazon advertising
* if a TynCat entry has a picture of the book, it is likely that Amazon has it online
(or it is preparing to put it online - an unfortunate number are waiting)
Amazon online reading
* this is free, but they will want credit card info to know that you could buy it
* so create an ID & password. Hint: it will continue to work when your card expires.
* Amazon allows you to search for a word, and then read a few pages beyond it
* when you come to a stop, search for a word on that page and start again
(Hint: often you can search for a word in the page heading, which will list every page)
* notice that the page shown here is one which was unavailable on GoogleBooks (above)
Archive.org & Project Gutenberg
* click on "Articles" on the Tyndale Toolbar Bibliog. search
Project Gutenberg doesn't just wait for free out-of-copyright books. It makes them
* you can volunteer as a worker with them, and clean up pages they have scanned
* this is tedious work, and they are quite exacting, but this is one way to make a difference to the world
* they are all copyright-free in the USA, but not always in Europe
* but they don't make a limit on downloading outside the USA
(at present - this may change. If it does, see below for workarounds)
* don't bother to search the Gutenberg site - use "Archive" on the Tyndale Toolbar
Archive.org includes books from Project Gutenberg
* plus books from hundreds of other library collections: over 2 million books
* their 2millionth book was Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent by Heiric, of Auxerre, ca. 841-876 AD
Getting round European copyright restrictions
Copyright exists to protect authors and publishers from financial loss, and this should be respected
* but a large proportion of books 'protected' by copyright are out of print with no-known copyright owner
* these so-called "orphan" works are a huge legal battlefield and have caused a problem to the Google Books project
* the situation as I understand it (I'm not a lawyer, so don't rely on me) is this:
* the USA Authors Guild have agreed to a compromise, allowing Google Books to host orphaned books until a claimant turns up
* in Europe Google Books cannot scan orphaned books and can't even show scanned USA orphaned books.
As an author, I'm outraged. When I'm dead, I want my books to be read
* and if no-one is publishing them, I want them to be freely available.
* in other words, a law which is doing good at protecting some books, is also doing a disservice
While the lawyers argue, we in Europe are at a disadvantage
* a huge proportion of our books won't join GoogleBooks
* and a huge number of books available as full text in the USA are blocked in Europe.
So, here's what to do: Send your computer to America and ask it to bring the books back to you
* if you can't afford the airfare, you can do it electronically, by IP masking
* I recommend Hotspot Shield - but there are several others
* they let you browse the internet via a server in the USA, so your internet access is in America
* when using the software, you won't notice any difference, except that you'll appear to be in America
* this means you can read lots of GoogleBooks which are blocked in Europe.
(it is also useful if you are using the internet in countries which like to check up on you, because it makes you effectively anonymous)
To test it, try reading F.C.Baur, Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ, his life and work, his epsitles and his doctrine (vol.2 1876; trans & ed Allan Menzies, Eduard Zeller)
* in Europe you can't read it. Turn on Hotspot Shield and you can read it.
* remember to turn off Hotspot Shield if you are using resources which recognise your local IP, such as subscription sites through your institution.
Journals available online
* Tyndale House periodical list is an up-to-date list of all theology & Biblical Studies periodicals online
* if you see something missing which you think should be there, please tell me
* another, less refined but useful list is at the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) which covers all other disciplines very well
* other useful lists of journals online are here and here
More and more journals are going online, both free and subscription.
* most follow the model of print first then give free or subscription access after a few years
* some are free or subscription online from the start
* I like the model of the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism
* they put the new articles online free for a year, then print them in a hardback volume and remove them from the web
* ideally the web versions would still be available on subscription. Perhaps they'll add this in the future.
* if you publish with them, your article will get noticed, and referred to, and this means all libraries have to buy the printed copy
They provide a limited free search service - only 5 results to every search are free
* however, you can repeat the search with added words to make it more specific
* and there doesn't appear to be any limit to the number of searches
* their results are very useful, because they all have a short summary of every article
Quick scans by email
If you can't find what you need online, use the Tyndale scan service
* for the price of a two cups of coffee, you get a scan of an article or a chapter, usually the next day
* the scans are searchable PDFs, which you download and keep for the life of your research
* you can save them on your computer and search them with Zotero or Foxit
* eg you can find every place in all your scanned articles which mention "atonement" or "Zechariah"
* if we don't have it, the British Library almost certainly will, though their articles can't usually be downloaded as PDFs and they aren't searchable (and they are more expensive)
Organised lists: BiblicalStudies.org.uk
Most of the web is disorganised, so you search by words and pick through results
* Google Directories try to organise things but there is surprisingly little there
* Yahoo used to do a wonderful job, but it became too labour-intensive
* BiblicalStudies.org.uk is doing a surprisingly good job with small resources
* they organise material thematically - look at the side margin here
* they get permission to reproduce chapters and papers and even whole series of journals
* and they are selective - only the best is used (with a clear scholarly evangelical bias)
Finding online versions of books
* there are now a large number of eBooks, and PDFs of whole books online
* lists of sites to download free books are here & here & here
* You can upload your own books as scans or PDF or Word files at Calameo or read ones others have uploaded.
* Warning: it is sometimes difficult to know whether a book is being supplied legally, so be careful to follow copyright law.
Here's a few specialist lists
Loeb translations online
Lists of commentaries online here and here
Online libraries of theology (a mixed bag)
EEBO - Early English Books Online - a subscription service which provides full PDFs of EVERY book published in English from 1473-1700. Absolutely marvelous for modern historians, and frustrating for everyone else. Why can't we have the same? One day, perhaps.
A plea for electronic publications
When an important book comes out on paper-only, I groan because it is harder to use!
* simply reading a book (eg a novel) is often easier on paper, but for serious work a PDF version is better
* paper books can't be enlarged or reduced, can't be copy&pasted,
* they can't be scribbled on (unless you own it and don't want others to read it) or highlighted
(do all this easily with free FoxIt PDF reader
* you can't search them, except by using a very imperfect Index, and some of them have Endnotes (hateful things)
An example: Keener's wonderful Historical Jesus
There's a huge amount of information in the footnotes, eg when discussing John the Baptist's teaching on hell and Gehinnom, the superb footnotes have more references to primary sources than I'd expect in a complete article on hell.
And yet how can anyone ever find this?
The Subject index has no reference to Hell or Gehinnom so you have to remember at what point in the book it occurred.
And anyway, you'd have to read it with two heads, because the footnotes are published as endnotes.
So the easiest way to find it is to look up "Gehinnom" in Keener's book is to use the GoogleBooks version.
This finds the right page quickly (p.168), and also the footnote page (p.484) at the same time - great!
This is useful even if the actual pages aren't available in the preview, so you get a link to "Buy this book".
No-one minds paying for good stuff - except that the only copy you can buy is the cumbersome paper version!
What I'd love is EVERY published book to be available on snippet view, with a pay-by-page option for the full pages
* I think this would make a lot of money for publishers, save a lot of trees and transportation, and speed up research.
I look forward to the day when we can stop squashing trees and have easier-to-use electronic publications instead.
Tyndale Bookbar - gets the best prices
If you do have to buy a book, this is the place to get it cheaply
* you can quickly look up 1000+ new & used book sources
* and if you do buy a copy, Tyndale House gets a tiny profit
* also, it is a quick way to find reviews and online copies