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Amazon Plan Would Allow Text Search Of Books 193

Posted by Hemos
from the interesting-ideas dept.
emmastory writes "The New York Times is running a story (free registration required) about a new development at Amazon - they plan to assemble "a searchable online archive with the texts of tens of thousands of books of nonfiction." Users would only be able to read a certain portion of the text from any one book, but it sounds promising nonetheless. The Times article suggests that this is part of a larger strategy to compete with Google and Yahoo by making Amazon an authoritative source of information on everything book-related."
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Amazon Plan Would Allow Text Search Of Books

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  • Brilliant idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seinman (463076) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:16AM (#6490198) Homepage Journal
    If this happens, maybe we'll finally be able to find books based on their actual content instead of the (usually pretty crappy) writups that Amazon does on them.
    • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by steelerguy (172075) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:19AM (#6490219) Homepage
      This looks like it is only for non-fiction. Usually not to hard to tell what a non-fiction book is about just by reading the title.

      • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:23AM (#6490255) Homepage
        True enough, but quality is of question too. Not all Calculus textbooks, for example, are of equal educational value.

        It would be very valuable to be able to open a chapter of the book and give a read over it, you know, like in a real fucking bookstore.

        The problem being that stores [brick and mortar] like Chapters.ca stock only self-help dime-a-dozen whim-of-the-minute books. In fact when the local chapters first open you could walk in and buy TAOCP [I did :-)]. Now you would be lucky to get a calculus/algebra/science/anything textbook and at best you can only find those "cheat sheet" books which basically tell you how to solve every problem [but not why the solution works].

        For the most part people have to blindly trust some review from "BigGuy4477" about the value of a 89$ textbook...

        Tom
        • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:3, Informative)

          by ceejayoz (567949)
          It would be very valuable to be able to open a chapter of the book and give a read over it, you know, like in a real fucking bookstore.

          Amazon.com has their "Look inside this book" feature on a lot of titles, which lets you read a scanned excerpt of the book and see what you think. Just like in a real fucking bookstore!
          • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:49AM (#6490433) Homepage
            "Amazon.com has their "Look inside this book" feature on a lot of titles, which lets you read a scanned excerpt of the book and see what you think. Just like in a real fucking bookstore!"

            Except in a 'real fucking bookstore' I can look through the table of contents to see if it has chapters that may sound interesting, and I can then read a little bit from a section of MY CHOOSING. I don't care what amazon wants me to see from a book, and yes I realize some is better than none, but the real beauty of a bookstore is to flip around the entire book with no restrictions and see if you like the whole thing.

            • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:2, Insightful)

              by FroMan (111520)
              Why don't you just go to the "real f---ing bookstore?"

              If you don't like how an online business does things, don't use the online business.

              If you don't realize the difference between a brick and mortar store providing physical access the the product and an online store providing a digital copy of the product, you need to get your head examined.

              Basically they would be giving the book away. My guess is that the publisher has a problem with that.

              Original point, if you don't like the rules, don't play the g
            • Sure, if you can find the particular book that you want in the "real fucking bookstore[s]" you happen to have access to. Amazon's stock is a wee bit larger than most.

              After flipping through the bookstore's copy of the book do you buy it there or do you order it online? Be honest.
        • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Insightful)

          by whatch durrin (563265) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:30AM (#6490721)
          From my experience with non-fiction (college textbooks) in a "brick-and-mortar" store, the books are usually sealed shut with plastic wrap. That only goes for new books, of course.

          Besides, in college you usually don't have a choice about which textbook to use for the class. I guess you could always purchase supplemental books, but those are usually out of the price range/interest level/time scope of many college students.

    • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Surak (18578) * <surakNO@SPAMmailblocks.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:26AM (#6490279) Homepage Journal
      You can already do that to an extent on Amazon and on BN.com. For some books, they let you look inside at the Intro, table of contents, and sometimes a chapter or two. You can usually see the liner notes and front and back cover too.

      Very cool. I've purchased books based on the ability to look inside the book.

      Of course this *could* be great for college paper researchers, looking for a quote or two to stick in a research paper. Depends on how much meat you can really get at.

      If it weren't for copyright issues, I'd love to see libraries do something this. You already have the equivalent for magazine articles, but usually you have to either pay or actually go to the library to use their InfoTrac or whatever engine.
      • Definitly! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Schezar (249629) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:49AM (#6490427) Homepage Journal
        "Of course this *could* be great for college paper researchers, looking for a quote or two to stick in a research paper. Depends on how much meat you can really get at."

        College is great in this respect. No matter how crazy, ill-conceived, or outlandish your premise is, there are a thousand nut-jobs out there with nice quotations to support it. This would make it even easier to back that dribble up. Especially late the night before it's due, when you need to support that last flimsy claim in order for your paper to make sense.
        • Such as The Caine-Hackman theory. No matter what time it is, 24 hours a day, you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie playing on TV.
    • by Thag (8436) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:29AM (#6490295) Homepage
      The real issue is that Amazon's system doesn't do moderation very well, and as a result the reviews get spammed with people who really really like something.

      Or, you get situations where teachers apparently tell their classes to submit reviews on Amazon for a book, and you have 30 reviews that say nothing.

      And, of course, being a bookseller, there is a strong motivation for them to bias things so that positive reviews outweigh negative ones.

      Jon Acheson
      • amazon don't post negative reviews if there aren't enough positives, i've found.

        one book i read by some guy that was just awful only had 1 glowing review (by his girlfriend/wife/fuckpuppet). so i reviewed it badly 3 months ago. i'm still waiting for that review to arrive.

        *sigh*
        • Last December I wrote a comment about a truly awful Information Society CD, "Insoc Recombinant," which is basically a rehash of earlier work with truly pathetic mixes:

          Summary: very very disappointing
          Review: I wish, I wish, I WISH I had read the reviews on Amazon
          first, but I was out burning a gift card at another store (shame on
          me!) and saw this in the stacks. What a mistake!

          If you're new to
          InSoc, don't get this album. Buy the self-titled debut album, or
          Hack, or even Peace and Love, Inc., but no

      • Do they really have a motivation for strong reviews to outweigh weak ones?

        amazon carries virtually every book that you might want to buy. what do they care whether you buy calculus book GOOD vs calculus book BAD? yes, this might mean that they have some extra stock, but i think the long term value of having happy, trusting customers means more to them.

    • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stephenbooth (172227) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:29AM (#6490300) Homepage Journal

      I'm far more likely to pay attention to the customer reviews than a write up from Amazon.

      I guess what I'm saying here is that if you buy a book from Amazon then please take a few minutes to write a quick review saying what you liked/hated about the book, it will help other people make a decision. I've found that Amazon are usually quite fair (well Amazon UK are) and will publish a negative review so long as it's clear and non-offensive. If you write "This book sux." it'll get dumped, something like "This book skips a lot of the detail you need for this sort of level." then it will probably get through.

      Even if I buy a book from somewhere else I'll usually write a review of it on Amazon.

      Stephen

    • Re:Brilliant idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by aziraphale (96251) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:03AM (#6490504)
      Actually, most of the crappy writeups on Amazon are provided by the publisher, not Amazon at all. You're only looking at Amazon-originated content in the 'editorial reviews' section of a book page if it says 'Amazon.com' at the top. If it says 'From the Publisher', or 'Book Description', it's the publisher that provided it. This does, it must be said, stretch the definition of 'editorial reviews' somwehat.

      Oh, and the books Amazon promotes on its front page, or on section header pages, under headings like 'what we're reading this month' - Amazon doesn't put them there off its own bat - it's done in co-operation with publishers, with publishers buying placements with virtual money called 'co-operative marketing funds', which are allocated on the basis of how much money the publishers' books made for the ookstore the previous year. Same deal with physical bookstores of course - spend co-op money, and you can get your books 'face out' on the shelf (cover showing, rather than spine), or onto an 'end-cap' (a display shelf at the end of a row), or even onto a table display.

      A short time working in publishing is a great way to disabuse yourself of the notion that book stores know or care anything about the books they sell...
    • by Zerth (26112)
      I wish they'd do this for fiction, although I know it'd be halfway impossible and it probably wouldn't cover out of print books. I've got at least one book that I can't remember the title/author but could quote enough passages or facts to find it.

      How many books could there be about a 1-eyed ex-programmer turned fencing instructor who was the original programmer of a computer made of cloned brain tissue that is the server for a MMRPG but has developed consciousness due to another ex-programmer who, dyin
  • Patent this (Score:5, Funny)

    by number_man (543418) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:19AM (#6490218)
    Shouldn't somebody patent this process before Bezos does??
    • Re:Patent this (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keyslammer (240231)
      IANAL, but I think now that they've announced it, it can't be patented (unless it already has been).
      • Re:Patent this (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:32AM (#6490324) Homepage Journal
        IANAL, but I think now that they've announced it, it can't be patented (unless it already has been)

        That's funny. Oh... you're not trying to be funny.

        Have you missed the dozens of articles about people recently patenting things that've been around for 30+ years, then suing small businesses for cash?

        The USPTO seems to grant a surprising amount of patents on things that "can't be patented".
        • Re:Patent this (Score:5, Interesting)

          by keyslammer (240231) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:46AM (#6490412) Homepage Journal
          Have you missed the dozens of articles about people recently patenting things that've been around for 30+ years, then suing small businesses for cash?

          That's different: that's just blatant disregard for prior art. It's quite a another matter if you announce something in a huge press release and _then_ tried to patent it. You'd look like a moron because you yourself created the prior art! Not that this would stop Amazon...
  • by Artifex (18308) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:20AM (#6490227) Journal
    Have you noticed that they now offer web searching as well, and are also generating third-party ads based upon what you're looking for?

    This development may bite them back - when I look for something on Amazon now, I often find in their ads that other people have the item cheaper. Amazon may get a nickel or quarter for the referral, but they lose the dollars from the markup.

  • by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:20AM (#6490228)
    ... someone writes a distributed bot to query targeting a specific book and sections to finally retrieve the entire book. If it's a distributed app, then it would be tougher for Amazon to block. You could even have it only go after certain parts of the books at different times to make it tougher. Now not to say that this is a good use of effort, but that never stopped anyone from doing such a thing before :)
    • alt.binaries.ebooks . Kazaa. eDonkey. Gnutella. etc.

    • If they limit search-inside to logged-in users, then this becomes more difficult. You'd need an amazon account (1:1 with email address) for each set of pages that you view. If it's 10 or so pages per account, then a 300 page book means you need 30 accounts.
  • Amazon (Score:5, Funny)

    by jester (8414) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:21AM (#6490233)
    I remember when doing a search on Amazon for "Database Admin" returned the number 1 response of "The fine art of vaginal fisting" and the reviews that it prompted ... pushing this book up into the top 100 bestsellers. Now what would the ability to read some text from books do ;-)
    • the book does exist and has raving reviews!!!
      3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
      slim in size but big on info, April 20, 2003 Reviewer: Magdalene Meretrix (see more about me) from Idaho This book is very slim -- there are only about 100 pages in it and much space is taken up with line drawings. It's understandable that the book is so slender since there really aren't volumes of information to impart on the subject, but I really wish the book had been longer. The book does covers the infor
  • Perfect! (Score:5, Funny)

    by zapp (201236) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:21AM (#6490236)
    I always find it annoying when reading a paper boo when I can't Ctrl-F to find a certain segment.

    Now I can just hop online to amazon, do the search, it will tell me what page it's on, and I can go read it!
    • by zapp (201236)
      I really need to learn to proof read :) it's a good thing I'm not a boo(k) author!
    • You have this feature in paper books as well. It's called an "Index" and it has various term for the book listed with their page numbers.
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:21AM (#6490238)
    And minimum wage laborers in 3rd world countries find themselves scanning books into computers and correcting the text using crappy OCR technology for 12 hours a day. This is one job I'd be happy to export to India.
    • Actually, if they used a search engine capable of OCR pattern matching algorithms, they could save themselves a lot of manual work...
      • Still, regardless, they'd still have to manually scan those books all in (whether one page at a time or multiple pages via a multipage scanner), and do a spellcheck on everything to make sure whatever OCR technology they are using correctly identified all the characters.
        • This made me thinking. What does there exist of tools for automated OCR? Most paper copiers do an admirable job of removing staples, feeding one sheet at the time, copying double-sided, and finally stapling both the original and all the copies together. With a scanner inside instead of a copier, this should work just as well for scanning books. Only downside is that you would have to remove the spine, but I think amazon.com can afford that.
          • There are tons of automated scanners out there but as with most automation you absolutely have to have a person there watching all the time to make sure that two pages aren't grabbed at the same time and other such problems... but it's still better than hand scanning.

            As for the software, Textbridge is perhaps the best that I know of.

    • Re:OCR Be Damned! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by buro9 (633210) <david AT buro9 DOT com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:57AM (#6490475) Homepage
      They'd probably try and get a few publishers on board so that they can be supplied with digital versions of the text. I can't imagine that they would OCR everything... so they'd negotiate what they could from the outset.

      This would be very easy for publishers to accomodate, and they would do so more willingly if the book was old (e.g. Origin Of Species, etc).
  • O'Reilly on steroid? (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnderAttack (311872) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:21AM (#6490242) Homepage
    Would this be like OReilly's Safari [oreilly.com] online books on steroids? Safari is my favorite bookstore for a while now.
    • by javatips (66293)
      Safari is not a book store. It's a renting library where you can only get a section of a book at a time (unless you are permanently connected to the Internet).

      It would be a book store if you could buy and download a complete book so you can read it however it please you (online or offline, on-screen or off-screen).
    • Yep, it sounds just like Safari Online. I use that to make my technical references available online. Now if I only had time to read them...
    • by Soko (17987) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:52AM (#6490453) Homepage
      Not exactly, I think.

      Safari is access to the whole content of the book on-line, as well as searching for text within that content as well as any other books they have available on-line. IOW, Safari is actually a superset of the Amazon thing, since you can pay to read the whole book, not just search through it for snippets and passages.

      I love Safari as well - saves shelf space, trees and frustration (because of the search function). I wouldn't want to read a novel on-line, since a paper book is a better interface for that, but for reference material about programming/networking/Operating Systems etc., Safari works well, since you're in front of a machine anyway. And IIRC, errata in the books is applied directly to the text on-line, and you get the latest edition without having to get another book, just updated content.

      The only time having all of your reference material on-line would be a problem is if you need ref. material to get your Cisco router that connects you to the Internet back on-line.

      Soko
  • Too bad ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JSkills (69686) <jskills AT goofball DOT com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:23AM (#6490253) Homepage Journal
    ... there was no mention of the actual search technology Amazon would be using to allow searching the text of such a large archive of books (why only non-fiction I wonder).

    Looks like they'll be going with a proprietary solution. Even though the article seems to indicate that Amazon is launching this new service as a response to Google's "Froogle" shopping search product, wouldn't partnering with Google make more sense for them?

    • Re:Too bad ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:30AM (#6490305)
      .. there was no mention of the actual search technology Amazon would be using to allow searching the text of such a large archive of books (why only non-fiction I wonder).

      This type of text searching has been around for a gazillion years and is not really that complex. It really depends on how flexible they want to make the searching. Case in point, wildcards. Google sacrifices flexibility by not allowing you to search on wildcards in their news searches in order to gain speed. Ditto for things like phrase searching, etc. The actual # of docs is pretty much irrelevant wrt search speed (at least directly). It depends more on the features you allow in your query language and the # of hits returned by each part of your query. Plus you're dealing with static data that can easily be distributed.

      The tough part of all this is getting the stuff in digital format. I assume for most current books it won't be a problem. The hassle would be older books that you'd actually have to OCR. Though once they're done, they would have a pretty valuable asset.
    • Re:Too bad ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:34AM (#6490339) Homepage Journal
      Looks like they'll be going with a proprietary solution... wouldn't partnering with Google make more sense for them?

      You are aware that Google's a proprietary solution, right?

      Just because Slashdot loves Google doesn't mean it's all of a sudden non-proprietary!
      • My issue with the concept of Amazon's solution being proprietary was not that proprietary = bad, but that they would be building something that has already been built (and successfully implemented) before. Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel so to speak. When was the last time you wrote your own bubble sort algorithm.

        Technical semantics aside, there very well might be some sound business reasons that Amazon would want their own software written from the ground up. But if it's basic search on

  • Good Data (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindshadow (240798) *
    See... I would pay up to about 50 dollars a month to have free access to reading those books online... I guess the problem would be printing them out and redistributing them. Perhaps maybe just manuals... I am so sick of shelling out 50 bucks so I can read 5 pages about some topic knowing I will never read the rest of the book. Love the web ... information is free ... hate the web ... information is not reliable and all over the place. :(
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:24AM (#6490259) Homepage Journal

    Any returns of C or C++ code might get SCO's law team on your ass..
  • legal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hatrisc (555862) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:25AM (#6490269) Homepage
    doesn't this infringe on basically every copyright that the publishing industry has?
    • Re:legal? (Score:5, Informative)

      by keyslammer (240231) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:31AM (#6490315) Homepage Journal
      It is well established that you can cite portions of a work (which seems to be what they're doing), if the portions are especially large, I would imagine that they'd have to get permission from the publishers.

      Of course, as Amazon, they're probably in a position to do so.
    • Re:legal? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DeepRedux (601768) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:32AM (#6490321)
      It looks like Amazon is going to get permission before they do this. First line of the article: "Executives at Amazon.com are negotiating with several of the largest book publishers...". There is no infringement if they have permission.
    • Re:legal? (Score:5, Funny)

      by aziraphale (96251) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:12AM (#6490580)
      Crikey - you're right - I bet Amazon didn't think of that. We should get Jeff Bezos on the phone right now and tell him.

      Oh no, hang on, it seems that they have thought of it. Thank goodness for that - no need for an eagle eyed Slashdot reader to point out the error of their ways.

      It seems that, because Amazon has the entire publishing industry over a barrel nowadays, just a few quick calls from Amazon to their biggest suppliers, and a notice in publishers' weekly, and they can go ahead and do whatever they like with the content of the books they sell.

      You know, in some music stores, you can go up to listening points and hear music, on demand, without paying for it. D'you think the RIAA should be told? I bet they'd be really keen to sue their key supply channel for this obvious copyright infringement...
  • by BillFarber (641417) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:25AM (#6490271)
    Isn't this a violation of the privacy of all the people who have biographies for sale at amazon? John Ashcroft could search the text and find out anything they want about Abraham Lincoln! This article should be listed under "Your Rights Online".
  • by jaxle (193331) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:28AM (#6490292)
    This would be awesome for students. I've always wished I could just execute a search function through a book to find what I was looking for. It can be a p.i.t.a. to use indexes and thumb around until you find what you need.
    • Remembering my student days, I'm glad I didn't have such a search function. A search function lets you bypass what you're not specifically looking for. In an academic quest for knowledge, sometimes you need all the paragraphs of disclaimers and limiters around the cute phrase you're looking for, or you'll radically misinterpret the phrase.

      One example from current events: Bush said in his State of the Union address, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quant

  • Seriously, though, I think Google would still be king of search...

    Amazon would put snippets of book contents online and Google would then rank said snippets according to the number of times they have been linked to by Amazon aficionados.

    If I want to know the 'net opinion on, say, The Lucifer Principle [amazon.com], I'll simply go to Google, which will link to the relevant snippets as ranked by the Internet. Interesting, no?
  • Fair Use? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wo1verin3 (473094)
    Remember when MP3.com cached a whole tonne of MP3 files on their servers? And even though they weren't selling them and you could only access them if you provided the original cd (or an exact copy) at one time, it was still decided not to be legal?

    Caching the entire contents of books sounds a little beyond fair use. The concept is cool, but they're going to need some publishers behind them. Maybe they think the name 'Amazon' will keep lawsuits away, but it won't.
    • Re:Fair Use? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poptones (653660)
      MP3.com had already tried to establish itself as its own "label." They had clearly declared themselves competitors to the RIAA labels and then, in a grab for mo' money, decided they would dance through what they thought to be a "loophole" wherein they would "cache" - and then stream - MP3s of CDs from any major label that the "client" could prove (by way of sticking a Cd in a drive) they owned.

      contrast this with Amazon.com being one of the largest distributors in the world of books for all these publishers

  • Change the world... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mgcsinc (681597) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:41AM (#6490376)
    Some wealthy do-gooder could pay amazon to use this feature to the public's benefit, linking words such as "porn" to self-help books about sex-addiction and "bomb-making" to a similar book about dealing with pent-up anger...
    • by Bearpaw (13080)
      Some wealthy do-gooder could pay amazon to use this feature to the public's benefit, linking words such as "porn" to self-help books about sex-addiction ...

      How about linking searches for self-help books to a book on addiction to self-help books?

      ... and "bomb-making" to a similar book about dealing with pent-up anger...

      Better yet, link to a book about non-violent ways of dealing with a society that's been fucked up by the manipulations of rich assholes.

    • "Some wealthy do-gooder could pay amazon to use this feature to the public's benefit, linking words such as "porn" to self-help books about sex-addiction and "bomb-making" to a similar book about dealing with pent-up anger..."

      Which public would this be benefiting? The one that thinks porn and explosives are "Bad Things" and should be banned? I would be extremely offended if when I clicked on a link for porn it took me to the listing of a book telling me that porn was bad and I had an addiction to it.

      If y

  • One rule for them... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Rogerborg (306625)

    Sure, your honour, I only OCR'd and put my entire book collection up on Kazaa so that people could search for passages before buying them from me. Same with my mp3s and DVDs, now that I think of it.

    Let's look at the fair use [warwick.ac.uk] provisions in the 1976 copyright act:

    the fair use of a copyrighted work [...] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

    Purposes such as selling i

  • by KingRamsis (595828) <kingramsis@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:42AM (#6490388)
    so i someone wrote a script that sequentially searches for most popular words you can end up with the whole text?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:47AM (#6490418)
    The NIH has a good start with something of this nature. The NCBI (part of the National Library of Medicine) has a fully-searchable set of about 20 books. The books are generally cover biology topics, but represent some of the standard texts used in college courses. They call the project Bookshelf [nih.gov] and it is entirely free. Several books contain direct links to gene sequences, etc.
  • I can search all of Hacking TiVo: The Expansion, Enhancement, and Development Starter Kit.. [amazon.com]

    but then again that's because I'm writing it. :)

  • by tyrani (166937) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:49AM (#6490428)
    This sounds like a good project that they could get some gov't funding for.

    Besides the obvious copywrite problems, if the gov't was to get involved and Amazon (or whoever) was allowed to permit searching an entire book for concepts / keywords but not be able to view the entire book without paying for it this would both increase sales and usefulness.

    If this was the origional model for online music, think of all the problems that would have been avoided. Perhaps a second look at this type of archiving will help the movie industry as bandwidth increases.
  • by Crusty Oldman (249835) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:56AM (#6490468)
    .

    Now, put the rest of the book online, pay the author directly, and ya got something!

  • by machinecraig (657304) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:56AM (#6490470)
    I'm surprised nobodys mentioned Project Gutenberg - I mean, they've been OCRing public doman books for a long time now, and there are thousands of texts available... not in some crappy interface that Amazon will use, but in wonderful, sweet, ascii text format. Couple this with some good regular expressions and you're in business... want to see how many times Sherlock Holmes talked about using cocaine? It's elementary!
  • RealLife? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryanoo (310484) <ryan@noSPam.ryanorourke.org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:04AM (#6490516) Homepage
    The publishers said they have been guardedly cooperative.

    How authors will react is another question.

    Isn't this what happens in the RealWorld? You walk into a bookstore, open it up, read a few pages and make a decision on whether or not you want to buy it?

    I think publishers and authors would be rather short-sighted to not allow potential customers shop online the same way they shop in brick and mortar stores.

  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:05AM (#6490529)
    search a little, store a little. Search a little store a little more.

    Pretty soon you'll have the entire book.

    They'll have an app out to search the pieces out and stich them together into one complete book..

    Yeah, this will work, thanks for the free ebooks Amazon..

  • Oh Goody (Score:5, Funny)

    by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:20AM (#6490642)
    *Accessing http://www.amazon.com/search*
    Enter your search criteria:______________
    *Enter search "Moby Dick"*
    Search Complete:

    Moby Dick
    by: Herman Melville

    Call me...
    Would You Like to Read More? This title can be purchased for $14.95 through our...


    *Back Button*
    Enter your search criteria_____________
    *Enter search "Tale of Two Cities"*
    Search Complete:

    A Tale of Two Cities
    by: Charles Dickens

    It was the best of times, it was the...
    Would You Like to Read More? This title can be purchased for $29.95 through our...


    *Back Button-Back Button-Back Button-Close*
  • The Times article suggests that this is part of a larger strategy to compete with Google and Yahoo by making Amazon an authoritative source of information on everything book-related."

    Like i'd really go to Google's or Yahoo's website to buy a book/dvd/something online
  • Great idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:56AM (#6490986)
    This is an excellent idea. I would hope that I'd be able to read a few sentences or paragraphs from the text containing the search phrase, along with whatever pages I am able to preview before buying the book and I hope this will later be extended to fiction.

    Just imagine if Amazon did some deal with the Library of Congress that allowed them to scan in nearly every book published in the United States. Once the information is digitally stored, it could be utilized in other ways as well:

    • Libraries around the country could offer consoles on which you could read any book through a secure connection of some type, preventing unauthorized copying, which would prevent book publishers from agreeing to this. You could essentially read any book, even if the library doesn't have it.
    • Bookstores, schools and other organizations might get in on this network and offer the same service.
    This service doesn't even have to be free. I'd pay a subscription fee to have access to this information, as would the bookstores and whatnot.
  • Amazon will patent (and pay for the relevant legislation) the "illegal to remove cookie" that stays on your hard drive and tells amazon's search engine how many times you've searched within a given book. Once you reach, say, 10 pages (or a percentage of the book) it won't let you search through at book anymore. And if you dare remove the cookie from your computer or block it in any such way, the DMCA police will be at your door. This seems like the most logical, simple solution :P Ah, and book publisher
  • Mainly teasers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xtrucial (674445)
    Probably this will be mainly for "teaser" purposes (think movie teasers) rather than something that actually allows researching. Like their "Look Inside" feature, which only shows the first few pages of a book. Still cool, though.

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