Authors Guild Worried About Amazon's Full Text Search

from the as-expected... dept

theodp writes “’s new Search Inside the Book feature is drawing skepticism from the Authors Guild, which says publishers did not have the right to make the contents of books available without the authors’ permission. Authors Guild staff members managed to view and print as many as 100 consecutive pages of several books by searching repeatedly for different terms, which they note is a bit inconvenient but sufficient to print out all the fish recipes from a cookbook or the section on Tuscany from a travel book. When the Authors Guild raised its concerns with publishers over the summer, some offered to remove a book from the searchable database if the author requested it. A spokesman for Amazon said the company left decisions of what was available up to the publishers.” We predicted their might be legal problems with the service. Of course, if you read the entire Authors’ Guild note, you’ll see that they admit that many authors will clearly benefit from this service, as it will help them sell more books. The ones that they’re concerned about are reference books and things like cookbooks and travel books – since people are usually only interested in a single section of that book. I’m not sure that’s actually the case. It might hold in some cases, but people who just want a tiny section of a book are unlikely to buy it anyway. If they constantly need to use it, they’ll find the Amazon feature to be quite annoying, and that it would be well worth their time and money to just buy the book. People who just want a single section of the book are much more likely to just go to a library or bookstore and browse the book than buy it anyway.

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Comments on “Authors Guild Worried About Amazon's Full Text Search”

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Chad Williams (user link) says:

dirty search?

How about a “dirty search” option that lets people get back search results that cannot be fully viewed but which show a blurred-out picture view of the content?

This protects the authors of reference books from having their content viewed (and hurting sales) while letting consumers search for the keyword in the book and know the content is in the book.

Also, how about a correspoding chapter summary. Authors could add digital metadata to their chapters / sections / pages so they’re more readily searchable. Of course all this is just leading towards digital books in my opinion…for cookbooks and the like, unless its a coffee table book I’d rather have the content online and print it out – instant gratification is good stuff.

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