Google Catalogs

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Comb through your favorite catalogs or peruse a collection of over 4,500 with Google Catalogs.


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At the start of the dotcom boom, all the retailers rushed to put their catalogs online. Google's sauntered along, and long after all the hoopla has died down, put up catalogs in a different way. Instead of designing a web site that looks like a catalog, Google simply scanned in pages from catalogs - over 4,500 of them - and made them available via a search engine.

From the front page of Google Catalogs (http://catalogs.google.com), you may either do a simple keyword search or browse through a subject index of catalogs. Each catalog listing gives you the option to view the catalog, view previous editions, or link to the catalog's site (if available). If you choose to browse the catalog, you'll be presented with a series of page thumbnails. Catalog pages also offer a search bar at the right of the page that allows you to search just that catalog.

If you're interested in a particular class of item (like electronics or toys or whatever) stick with the topical catalog browsing. If you're searching for a particular item, use the keyword search on the front page. If your search is somewhere in between, use the advanced search page.

The Advanced Catalog Search (http://catalogs.google.com/advanced_catalog_search) lets you narrow down your search by categories (from Apparel and Accessories to Toys and Games), specify if you want to search only current catalogs or all past and current catalogs, and specify if you'd prefer to filter results using SafeSearch.


Of course, any options on the Advanced Catalog Search page can be expressed via a little URL tiping [Tip #9].


Search results are very different from other Google properties. They include the catalog name and issue date, a picture of the catalog's front page, the first page where your search term appears (a link to additional results with your search term, if any, appears on the line with the name and date of the catalog), and a close-up of where your search term appears on the page. Generally, the pages in the search results aren't very readable, but that varies depending on the catalog. Click on the page to get a larger version of the entire page.

Special Syntaxes

Google Catalogs search does not have any special syntaxes.

Google Catalogs and the Google API

Google's Catalog search is not, at the time of this writing, supported in the Google API.