October 23, 2003

Finally! Searching INSIDE books

Ok this is cool. Amazon's introduced a new feature, Search Inside the Book, which I'm immediately finding incredibly useful. I'm discovering all kinds of books that make reference to information of interest to my own book research.

This feature will drive new sales at Amazon, no doubt. But I'm not sure the feature, which I'm going to be using like crazy, is going to cause me to buy additional books from Amazon. I suspect my Amazon purchase rate will stay the same. For me, the tool will be useful as a research tool pointing me to sources that I can then go find at a library, used book store, or at ISBN.nu.

UPDATE: Here's a good overview of Amazon's new service, by Gary Wolf in WIRED News.

2nd UPDATE: Some additional thoughts. For someone like me, who's doign a huge amount of research, the ability to do full-text searches through hundreds of thousands of books is a dream come true. Best thing to happen on the web since Google opened up the Usenet archive.

But I'm wondering: won't there be publishers or authors will object to this new service? For instance: I can now go do a search, get say 80 results back, and surf through the results (can take hours) capturing the images of the actual pages of the books within the results. Amazon was nice enough to let you page forward one or two pages beyond the "hit" page. So all you need to do is do another search, for a phrase that happens two pages ahead, and the result will be the next several pages.... and so on. It is now possible to basically read the whole book without buying it.

I notice that Amazon requires users to be logged in, in order to use the new search service. That means they can easily track, and record, exactly what you're searching for, and, more importantly, which full-screen pages of the book you're drilling down to actually view. Will heavy users of the service be receiving scary emails from Amazon warning them about their over-use of the service? Or, will Amazon start charging users a fee for the privilege?

UPDATE #3: This is too big a deal. Decided to write more about it. See new article at Nettle, my other blog: http://www.nettle.com/archives/000062.html.

Posted by brian at October 23, 2003 08:14 AM

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