Saturday, October 25, 2003

Wow! has just added an amazing feature to its website. Now when you search for a keyword Amazon will search not only titles, authors, and keywords, but also the entire text of over 120,000 books!! For instance, I did a search on the word antidisestablishmentarianism, which I figured would not show up in any title or keyword search. Now with Amazon's new search feature it turned up 45 results.

The search results return the title, author, copyright data as before, but now, there's a second entry right below that says "Excerpt from page xx" followed by a brief excerpt from the book with your word in bold type. Also when you select any title, you'll find a link just below the picture of the cover art, that says Search inside this book or Look inside this book. When you click this link, it will take you to a page where you can Search for text within that particular title.

As I already discovered, this doesn't work for all books. I was looking for a reference to the word calvinist in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, but when I clicked on the Look inside this book link I was told that I couldn't search the text of this book because the feature is only available for books for which Amazon has the publisher's permission to display copyrighted material. In fact, I think that "Look inside this book" as opposed to "Search inside this book" is a tip off that you can't search the text of a book.

Anyway, I can imagine this new feature will be quite useful, especially as the concept catches on and more and more books become available. Three cheers to Amazon for making this powerful search tool available.

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