14 June 2006

Review: 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google

Following my previous post, I’m pleased to say that my copy of 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google finally arrived on Monday. Here are a few comments on the whole experience...

Placing the order

I ordered my copy from and paid a whopping £9.01 for the ‘International Express’ shipping option in order to receive it within 4-8 business days. For some reason, that option had increased to £12.49 when I checked their website yesterday! And since the book only costs £9.20, I think that’s a little high. (My copy actually came from Spain.)

I noticed that other authors selling self-published books through Lulu opted to make them available for download. With international shipping costs being so high, that would seem like a more sensible approach if they plan to sell lots of copies to people outside the United States – especially since royalties aren’t received from the shipping costs. Having said that, I would much rather read from a physical book in my hands than an e-Book on my screen, so I probably would have opted for the printed version anyway – I just wish the shipping charges were lower!

Checking the quality

The print quality and appearance of the book is pretty good – much the same as most mass-produced books for this price. However, I did notice one small oddity whilst reading the book; the pages seemed to be narrower at the spine of the book than they did at the edge. I wasn’t sure whether this was just an optical illusion or not so I actually measured the book. To my surprise, the book was indeed a whole 2mm narrower at the spine! This is a bit odd, but obviously no big deal. To be honest, most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t even notice this (and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t measure the book to check). You probably even get this on shop bought books, but I don’t actually read that much so I wouldn’t know.

Reading the book... finally!

I love books that just contain lists of fun facts and seemingly useless information; you can pick them up, read a bit and put them down again a few minutes later. 55 Ways is definitely one of those books. Having said that, I read the entire book from cover to cover in around four to five hours over two sessions. But I was reading pretty fast so that I could (i) give my feedback on the book as soon as possible and (ii) see how many times my name was mentioned!

The variation in style of each chapter was quite refreshing. Some chapters are quite short, others consist of just pictures, there are a couple of quizzes, short stories, a few games you can play with Google, plenty of interesting facts and many other things you can do with Google.

Having been an avid reader of Google Blogoscoped (and other Google-related blogs) for over 18 months, I was already aware of many of the “55 ways to have fun” listed in the book. However, despite being the ‘Google expert’ in Chapter 8 and getting only two questions wrong in Chapter 26, even I had learnt a few things by the time I’d finished reading!

In conclusion, I think that 55 Ways is an excellent book for anyone who has an interest in Google or just wants to know what else you can do with the most popular search engine in the world. This isn’t a complicated reference guide on how to use Google as a tool – it’s an entertaining book on how to use Google as a toy!

Update: 22 June 2006 (20:21)

“The full PDF of my book, 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google, is now available on As the book is Creative Commons licensed, you are encouraged to copy, read, share, remix, convert, quote, browse, and print the PDF to your liking.”

Philipp Lenssen, Author

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Yes I made the decision to have more padding towards the spine so that when you bend the pages a little you can still see the full text easily. Hope that explanation made sense, it's kind of hard to explain. But there is a setting for this in Word somewhere. Actually this was a reaction to the very first print-out I sent to myself, because there the space towards the spine was too narrow to easily read (unless you rip out the page of course).

Anyway, cool to see your thoughts finally! I'll add it to reviews as a quote.

Uhm, OK, I can see you were first at Lulu :D