Amazon's 'Search Inside the Book'

Bibliofuture writes "Amazon.com has a new feature that allows you to search the full-text of over 120,000 books. Details are on the main page. I would be interested in what comments librarians have about this feature." Try a search for "zaphod" to see how it works. It looks like they try to limit you to browsing two pages of text. Is this the next step for library catalogs?

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Someone tell me why we can't do this

zaphod search puts a Microsft book at the top of the list for my results.I can't wait to hear the chorus of old fart librarians with a million and one reasons why we can't do this in libary catalogs. Even worse will be unresposive and not very innovative OPAC vendors who will provide nothing that even comes close to this, and charge $10,0000 for the "service".We must start to be more innovative in the array of offerings we provid to our customers, we are being left behind, it's just that simple. We can not sit and let the OPAC vendors feed us the crap they have been until now.

Re:Someone tell me why we can't do this

I'm a young fart librarian, but the simplest reason for us not doing this is that the publishers won't give us the data.

Of course, we could buy some of the data, but Amazon probably didn't have to, since it can "partner" with the publishers to provide improved acces, which leads to an increased revenue stream for the publishers. I'd rather pay for data that I'm allowed to give to patrons.

Amazon's not sharing the online books, it's just treating it as a huge chunk of metadata that points to the book you have to spend money to acquire.

Re:Someone tell me why we can't do this

young fart here also -- the issue seems to me that OPAC vendors are already having a hard time doing the right thing w/r/t libraries. I think the question, from my perspective, is "Would this feature help libraries at all or is it another bell and/or whistle?" the correlative question is "Will this create even *more* preferential search results for big publishers and relegate smaller and independent publications who can't or won't share their contents to an even lower result in the OPAC results?"

I'm already leery of the day when the OPACs start allowing us to limit the results to ones with pretty pictures of the front covers [i.e. bigger publishers]. I have nothing against technology, but it should be implemented as part of an overarching technology plan with the mission of the library in mind, not just latched on to at any cost because we fear being left behind. Spend some of that money getting a skilled systems librarian in place *first* then come talk to me about whizzbang OPAC features.

Re:Someone tell me why we can't do this

I am a bit surprised there aren't more comments to this story. It seems like a biggie.I don't want to look like a contrarian because I agree with Jessamyn on a fair number of things ... but I think it's important to get a sense from library users as to what features they consider helpful enhancements vs. 'bells-and-whistles'. Which isn't to say that the user is always right, but the perspective would be telling.There's a lot of pressure on libraries 'act' more like commercial information services (bookstores, search engines, etc.) and to treat their users like customers and the like. Personally, I think it's wrongheaded, but if this pressure is to be countered effectively, it's going to take substantial feedback between users and library staff to suss out how changing technology and expectations affect (and are affected by) the missions of libraries.Being a hopelessly romantic optimist, I'd like to think there's a happy medium of effectively integrating features that enhance ease-of-use and satisfaction for users while keeping the unique functions and operations of libraries at a premium. I have no desire for my local library's OPAC to look like Amazon.com, but I do think it could do a heck of a lot better in meeting the needs of users, whether they know exactly what they need, or they simply walk into the door with the thought, "Entertain/educate me ..."

Re:Someone tell me why we can't do this

People are missing the point. Right now you only get access to two pages -- then they want you to buy the book. What you're seeing here is a pivotal moment in the history of book publishing. And remember you saw it here first and you heard it from:The Library Phantom======The searchability implies that all the books are there -- in an electronic form. It's only a short leap from that to the idea that Amazon sells a subscription service that lets you have access to the entire library. Wouldn't alot of people pay $10 a month for easy online access to a big library -- especially if it included lots of reference type books.This is the same thing that RealNetworks already does with online music. It's no great stretch to extend that model to online books. Especially if the publishers restricted it to older books where they've already sold out the print run.From the standpoint of revenue it makes sense. Instead of making money when you publish a book and for a short time afterwards you create an ongoing revenue stream -- plus you save yourself the trouble of printing a second edition of a book when you know that you're only going to sell a small fraction of the edition. Instead of making 500 and selling 100 you simply sell it as an online edition and your costs are, well, essentially, nil. There are no unsold copies, no upfront costs for shipping, no returns from vendors. Your per copy profit margin in an electronic environment is much higher.And how many books go out of print because the costs of making a second edition so greatly exceed any hope of revenue. And, finally, think about this folks -- there is probably a whole backlog of out of print books where the publishers hold the electronic rights -- maybe because the author never thought of including it or it was long before electronics. That means the publisher wouldn't have to pay any royalties.What's been missing from the whole e-book arena is some 500 pound gorilla with the means and ability to make the idea of e-books work. Now, with Amazon, the missing simian has entered the room. Couple this with the development of wireless and tablet computing and you've got a whole new paradigm in place.

awesome

I'm going to buy a book that I would never have considered without this feature. This IS librarianship, and should be recognized as such. As long as librarians see themselves as ONLY responsive to the PUBLIC sphere, they will sideline themselves from the impressive developments in the private sphere which touch directly on their profession, and for which their expertise is needed.

Re:awesome

Sorry, I should change my verb tense. The last bit should read: for which their expertise WAS needed. Thanks for nothin', librarians.

Re:awesome

Amazon's new service is incredible; more contemporary and comprehensive than Questia (which was also good), it is helping me find in-text references and bibliographic citations I did not know about before. I often request books and articles by interlibrary loan, and this service will come in handy in the future when I determine which interlibrary loan requests to make from my local library. Everyone should be in support of research tools like this.

Two predictions

1. Spamdexing will spill into the print world.

2. Within two years, Amazon will start charging per page view.

Re:Someone tell me why we can't do this

Isn't Amazon already in the e-book business?As for the possibility of this feature encouraging e-book/pod for out-of-print works:1) djfiander has a point: is the full text to be simply used as metadata? What are the terms of Amazon's agreement with the publishers as to this data? My limited understanding of e-books seems to be that e-books have a host of technical and legal specs that would require specific licensing, etc.2) How much would publishers be willing to spend to convert an out-of-print title to digital format? Or even to migrate the data from one format to another? What kind of margins would they expect to see from the result?3) If publishers decide not to convert out-of-print works into digital media on the basis of profit margins, who will force them to? And Amazon isn't about to do it themselves ... too much work and definitely too little profit from their end. The OOP market isn't powerful enough.These are just questions ... I have no answers. Not, nor have ever been, in the bookselling or publishing biz. My $0.02, IMHO, YMMV ...

Re:Two predictions

What is spamdexing?

Powerful tool for Librarians

This feature of Amazon can be a very powerful tool for librarians. Look at what the tool is designed to do, make people more aware of what is in books. That is what librarians are trying to do. I plan on using this feature of Amazon while doing reference. Should look good when I tell someone, "On page 45 of book xyz they talk about your subject. Librarians should think of how they can exploit this tool.

Spamdexing

Geez, you'd think LISNews readers would know how to look up a word!

BTW, I'm not completely serious about the spamdexing prediction, but I am about page-view charges.

Re:Spamdexing

I could look up the word. I can just go to Google and type in spamdexing and receive no grief. But I figure, "hey, this is a librarians forum, I will ask the librarians." I am told to go look it up on the web. I guess that's cool.

BTW: Spamdexing is mentioned on page 434 of Telecommunications Law in the Internet Age

Re:Spamdexing

I apologize for the snarky tone of my earlier reply, in which I linked to the WordSpy entry for "spamdexing" to answer your question.

BTW: Nice use of the Amazon search!

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