Google is a great place for searching for things and doing research—not just for the trivial, but also for serious academic research. Google Scholar will give you academic articles and books, and also show where books and articles have been cited elsewhere. And Google Books can give helpful access to books which might be out of print or otherwise unavailable.
But how can you capture text in Google Books? Any kind of download or copy and paste is disabled, but it is a real pain to have to re-type quotations, even though such use presents no breach of copyright, and there is always the danger of errors creeping in.
There is an easy way to do it that, when set up, takes a few seconds.
1. Make sure the text you want is showing in unbroken form in your window on Google Books.
2. Use screen capture to grab a picture of the section of text you are interested in. On a Mac this is really easy using keystrokes Command-Shift-4; this gives you cross-hairs to click and drag over the area you want to capture. This creates a .png file on your desktop.
3. Download a PDF-to-text converter. I use the free PDF OCR X
4. Open PDF OCR and drag the screen shot onto the conversion window. The application seems happy to handle .png files as well as .pdf files.
And violà! You have a text file with the text from the Google Book which you can paste into any other document.