Amazon Launches Full Text Searches Of Books

from the kind-of-cool dept

As of this posting, we can only point to the press release, because no news source has written a story yet (though, I’m sure plenty will be coming), but Amazon.com today launched the ability to do full text searches of books. For example, want to know what books mention Techdirt? There you go. This seems like it could be quite useful in some areas (though, less useful if you’re searching for anything too common). Once you’ve found the books that mention the word in question, you can also see a scan of that page. Update: Wired Magazine had an article coming out with lots of details about the system, and it looks like they just rushed it live, to take advantage of the launch. It appears that this is the first result that came out of Amazon’s A9 search subsidiary that got so much publicity last month. There’s an interesting legal question raised in the article. Amazon claims they didn’t need to get copyright holders permission to scan in thousands of books, because they’re not actually offering up an archive of books. You can see an image of the scanned page, but not download the whole thing. They’re also pointing out that this is likely to get more people to buy books, so copyright holders should be happy. Of course, this sounds vaguely similar to the argument MP3.com made many years ago when they tried to create their huge library of MP3 files. It will be interesting to see how copyright holders react. Update 2: Well, now, despite what the Wired article claims, the press release says that they only scanned books where they had the publisher’s permission, so it’s possible the legal issue won’t come up.


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Comments on “Amazon Launches Full Text Searches Of Books”

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11 Comments
Frank says:

Re: Re: credit card

You must have already have an account with a credit card number. Amazon told me this:
“Add Your Credit Card and Billing Address
By publishers’ agreement, we are pleased to offer Amazon.com customers with a valid credit card the ability to view copyrighted pages.
Your account will not be charged.
This one-time process enables you to view limited copyrighted material through our Search Inside the Book feature.
Please enter your credit card information and its billing address below.”

Beck says:

Re: Re: credit card

Mike, you are probably logged in to Amazon so they know who you are and have your card number. However, if you are not a customer they require you to create an account and provide a credit card number before you can see the book pages.

The page says “By publishers’ agreement, we are pleased to offer Amazon.com customers with a valid credit card the ability to view coprighted pages.”

There is no explanation why they need your credit card.

Beck says:

Re: Re: Re: credit card

Maybe they need the credit card information to make it easier to sue and collect from all of the new copyright infringers that this will create.

However the pages appear to be locked down to prevent infringement. The right mouse click seems to be disabled to prevent copy/paste of the scanned image, and you can’t view the page source (at least not in IE) in order to get the URL of the scanned image.

adi (user link) says:

Copyright Issue

From what I’ve read, they scanned only works where they had an explicit agreement with the publisher/copyright holder. And the crux of that agreement is that the purpose is searching, not information providing, thus continuing the business of booksellers and book producers.

I can certainly foresee a day, however, when this agreement falls to the wayside and the first real digital library opens…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: jobs I would not want

Actually, in searching through some books, I’ve already found at least one case where their OCR software isn’t very good. I did a search and it found a result that was included in a bunch of gibberish, so I went and looked at the page, and it was completely different than the gibberish text it had shown on the search results page.

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