As most of you will know by now, Amazon has started enabling people to search for text within 120,000 of its titles and view selected pages from the books – a feature that has inspired some interesting thoughts about where search could go next.
Steven Johnson in Slate suggests you should be able to tell Amazon which books you own and do a search just on those – it would get info on what you have already which it can use to sell you new books and you would get a search engine covering your paper library.
“Gary Wolf in Wired”:http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,60948,00.html uses the news of the new service to delve into the politics of copyright protection and puts the service into context with attempts to publish out of copyright works for free on the web like Project Gutenberg and on-demand book publishing.
Amazon in an attempt to calm nervous publishers “has announced”:http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/3102731 already sales growth for searchable titles outpaced non-searchable titles by 9 percent – though “one blogger”:http://scrivenerserror.blogspot.com/2003_10_01_scrivenerserror_archive.html#106764958373017865 has pointed out this could be a one-off novelty effect.
“Steven Kaye”:http://vheissu.typepad.com/about.html has been tracking the Amazon book deal on “his weblog”:http://vheissu.typepad.com/blog/ in more detail. P.S. I had refrained from commenting on this so far because for the moment I am unable to use Amazon’s book search. It turns out (in my case at least) since I haven’t bought books from the US operation recently they can’t verify my credit card even though it is valid and therefore won’t let me see the pages. Frustrating!
Following on from that news, it turns out Google has its own book search plans covering 60,000 titles and is also going to incorporate links to library catalogues – some two million of the most popular books will be indexed and readers in North America (and only there for the moment it seems) will be directed to their nearest library that stocks the book when they enter the postcode.
All of this is very welcome news – there is a lot more “quality” information around in paper form than the Internet alone provides so people should be encouraged to broaden their searches to include books.