Sunday, October 26, 2003

Searching for Amazons

I see that Amazon now allows one to search not only titles and whatnot, but the entire texts of the books in its database. A lot of folks are thinking this is surpassingly nifty, but I'm not really sure. And quite frankly, I'm not even sure that it really works. I tested it out with two distinctive phrases from the last paragraphs of the chapter "The Siege of Gondor" from The Return of the King, which I would think would be one of the books in Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" database. (The phrases were "recking nothing of wizardry or war" and "great horns of the north wildly blowing".) The book was not listed among the results. Then I tried "Mindolluin", the name of a mountain also mentioned in the same paragraph, and still Return of the King failed to come up. Maybe I'm not understanding how this is supposed to work?

Also, it wasn't immediately obvious to me how to use the new feature, until I realized that it's hardwired into Amazon's search function. So any time you search, your search term results using "Inside the Book" are automatically returned, whether you want them or not. That could be a giant pain, could it not? I'm not saying this is a bad feature, but it seems to me the customer should be able to disable it.

(Just after I finished writing this, I saw that Jessa Crispin had almost the exact same thoughts, and two days before I did, to boot. Terry Teachout had the same thoughts. Geez, I'm getting slow on the draw.)

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