With little fanfare, and no pomp and circumstance, Google may have done Shakespeare proud. I may be biased, as a New York City Shakespeare in the Park fan, but Google’s sponsorship of the 50th anniversary season of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park, with a Shakespeare focused micro-site at Google Books, seems to be an unusually forthright effort on the part of Google to play by “normal” American business rules: garner goodwill through corporate sponsorship of a work in the public good.
The “Explore Shakespeare with Google” micro-site, in fact, is one of the most genuine, complete efforts Google has put forth since its IPO. The site is not a “beta”, it is not a “limited test” by invitation only, it is not a vehicle to mine user data to sell ads (at least not at present) and it is not a mere shell of offerings available elsewhere.
What is it then? According to Google:
The complete plays of Shakespeare. Now at your fingertips. In Shakespeare's day, gaining greater access to his plays meant duking it out with the other "groundlings" for the best view of the stage. It took centuries for the modern printing press to bring plays like Hamlet to people all around the world – and for the Bard to become one of the most quoted writers in history.
Now Shakespeare's oeuvre is even more accessible. Search within Hamlet for "to be or not to be" to read the rest of his famous soliloquy. Find out who called the world his "oyster" and why. Browse through a familiar play – or follow your curiosity to discover a new one. And if you decide you want to buy a copy, "All editions" will show you every version in Google Book Search, many of which are available for purchase.”
The micro-site homepage features direct-links to full books of Shakespeare’s plays through the Google Books Library Project, as well as links to preview portions of Shakespeare related books for sale. The “Explore Shakespeare with Google" micro-site also features a virtual “literary field trip” to the Globe Theater and other Shakespearean landmarks via Google Earth and information on this summer's free performance of Macbeth at the Delacorte Theater in New York's Central Park.