Google Books has a lot of old books that are available for "Full View". And there is an option to see a certain amount of plain text: when you're viewing the page images of an old book, if you click on the gear icon in the upper right and click on "Plain text" in the drop-down menu, you can see the OCR'd plain text for a few pages. But I want to get the plain text for all the pages.

Obviously I could repeatedly copy and paste, but if the book is long, then that process will take many hours, possibly days.

Does anyone know how to get all the plain text?

EDIT: Even though Google Books calls it "Plain text", it contains the italics found in the original text. And unfortunately, these italics cannot be accessed by downloading the PDF and using Select All and Copy. So I think it is important to be able to get the "Plain text" from Google Books.

1 Answer 1


Download the book as PDF (from the "gear" menu on the book's page in Google Books), and open the file in a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or Apple Preview. From there you can Select All, Copy, and Paste into the word processor of your choice.

If that doesn't work (sometimes the PDF version has a different and inferior OCR version than the web preview), try downloading the epub version, and converting it via Calibre.

  • Unfortunately, it looks like this method does not include the italics from the original Google "Plain text". Do you know of a method that includes the italics? Thanks!
    – 76987
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 3:50
  • Are italics ever visible in the preview of the plain text you mention above? I suspect Google's OCR does not preserve italics.
    – Calion
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 19:39
  • Yes, there are italics. See books.google.com/…
    – 76987
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 23:42
  • Interesting. It looks like the downloadable PDF version contains a different and vastly inferior version of the OCR text. Solution: Download the epub version, then convert it to text via Calibre.
    – Calion
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 19:17
  • 1
    Thanks, it looks like the epub version has what I need!
    – 76987
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 23:34

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