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Amazing Application Of Maps In Google Book Search

Maybe I’m behind the times on this and Google has been doing this with their Book Search results for awhile now, but tonight I saw something for the first time while using Google Books that I thought was really noteworthy. I was doing a search for one of the best books I’ve read in the past year, In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen and found the Google has only indexed a snippet view of the book. It was when I scrolled down this snippet view page that I saw this:

maps in google books

This totally amazed me. Google was plotting the many locations in this very lengthy book on a map! When I clicked the Maps link in the upper left hand corner, I was taken into Maps and an even more stunning level of data:
maps in google books

The left column of results lists the various locations in the book along with the associated page number where that location is found and a short snippet of text. Clicking on one of these entries brings up a popup on the map. I ended up clicking on Omaha as a location. When I clicked on the link in my example for Page 59, I was taken back into Google Books where this interesting presentation of results was featured:
maps in google books

As you can see, fragments of the text are being presented with the word Omaha highlighted. Just fascinating.
I’ve had some stern words for Google of late because of issues with Local Search, but I want to take a moment to express my wonder at this creative use of Maps technology. Having the physical geography of a book laid out in this manner is stunning, particularly for books in which location plays an important part. How can you imagine people using this feature of Google Book search, and when did you first start seeing this noteworthy application? I’d love to hear from you on this.