Amazon.com Opens the Books: Ask Serious, Long-Time Researchers to Name the Most Valuable Benefit of Web Access and They'll Cite the Ability to Search the Content of Books, Periodicals, Newsletters, and Newspapers. Such Access Has Eliminated Untold Hours of Paging through Hardcopies and Greatly Enhanced Information Gathering

By Banks, Michael A. | Online, March-April 2004 | Go to article overview

Amazon.com Opens the Books: Ask Serious, Long-Time Researchers to Name the Most Valuable Benefit of Web Access and They'll Cite the Ability to Search the Content of Books, Periodicals, Newsletters, and Newspapers. Such Access Has Eliminated Untold Hours of Paging through Hardcopies and Greatly Enhanced Information Gathering


Banks, Michael A., Online


Of the categories of text publications made available online, books have lagged behind magazines and newspapers in full-text availability. While full-text encyclopedias were a common offering of pre-Web services such as DELPHI, CompuServe, and The Source, most offerings tended to be specialized. Dialog, LexisNexis, and similar information utilities offer directories and specialized reference works--sometimes in limited versions--but more general offerings largely elude the online researcher. Of those available, most full-text books are works in the public domain, as is the case with Project Gutenberg.

As a practical matter, one would not expect publishers to offer the full text of books online. In addition to the potential for eroding hardcopy sales, there is the matter of illegal copies, as well as copyright issues. Thus, to find out whether a book contains a reference to, or detailed information on, a specific topic, it is necessary to physically look through the book at a library or bookstore. The same is true for finding all books that cover a topic, considering the topic might be buried in a chapter of a book rather than being the main focus of the book.

REVEALING WHAT'S BETWEEN THE COVERS

So matters stood until October 23, 2003, when Amazon.com opened more than 120,000 contemporary books in its catalog to full-text searching. The site's "Search Inside the Book" feature lets shoppers search the complete content of books from some 200 cooperating publishers. Further, searchers can also view images of actual pages from books found with the "Search Inside" feature. (Full information can be found at www.amazon.com/exec/obi dos/tg/browse//10197021/ref=amb_cen ter-3_30436/002-7220864-4479209.)

The range of searchable books is broad. Included are novels, popular histories, technical works, academic publications, and even short story collections. The content is not limited to obscure titles; the books are a good representative sampling of the millions of books Amazon.com lists. Books with 2003 copyright dates are common, and well-known authors and series are included. The publishers range from big names such as Time-Warner and Random House to more modest and specialized houses. All of which translates into a research tool that is nothing less than stunning.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The database, which contains 33 million words, was integrated into Amazon.com's existing search system. The Amazon.com search engine is a powerful tool (powerful enough that major corporations have licensed it for use in intranets), but fairly simple to use. There are several ways to search books. For a broad search, you can use the search box at the top of most Amazon.com pages. Select "Books" in the drop-down menu and enter the keyword(s) or phrase and click the "Go" button.

The system accepts single or multiple keywords. Phrases must be enclosed in quotes, and can be combined ("Crosley Field" "World Series" can be entered in the search box, and each phrase will be treated as a keyword.) Keywords can be combined with phrases to narrow searches also ("Crosley Field" 1939).

Books with and without full-text searching show up in search results. This is because all book listings have keywords attached to them to facilitate noncontent searches. A full-text offering is distinguished by a "Search Inside" icon above the cover's thumbnail image.

Some results in listings are accompanied by an excerpt from the page containing the keywords or phrases used in the search, as in the Crosley example, and some aren't. Either way, clicking on the book's title provides a menu of excerpts of pages that contain the search keywords or phrases. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Amazon.com Opens the Books: Ask Serious, Long-Time Researchers to Name the Most Valuable Benefit of Web Access and They'll Cite the Ability to Search the Content of Books, Periodicals, Newsletters, and Newspapers. Such Access Has Eliminated Untold Hours of Paging through Hardcopies and Greatly Enhanced Information Gathering
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.