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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

An Amazonian Search Engine, Coming Soon?

Just as I was working on an article about different ways to dramatically improve upon the already satisfactory state of search engine technology, Amazon.com says they may be close to a deal with several book publishers to allow full-text searching of thousands of nonfiction volumes sold online by Amazon.com.

The author of this New York Times article (via News.com) surmises that Amazon is looking to take on the Googles and Yahoos of the world by offering such a rich trove of searchable information exclusively to Amazon users. I don't think Amazon had intimated their intention of taking this approach, but if they do, I think it's a big mistake.

The concept of full-text searching of thousands of books is a fantastic idea. In fact, I believe that one of the biggest problems with search engines isn't the search technology at all; it's the lack of relevant content available in public Internet documents. Most of the millions of books published since Gutenberg invented the printing press are not even searchable online. That's billions of pages of rich information that aren't even available to the general searching public. But why shouldn't it be?

And, why shouldn't Amazon simply partner with all the search engines to integrate this information into search results across all engines? If a particular book is truly the most relevant information a searcher needs, he may just be willing to buy the book if he knows the information is contained within. I know I wouldn't mind the sales pitch from Amazon if I knew I could get just the right content that's only available in a book. Of course, I'd prefer to be able to download the book, but books on demand are probably a ways off.

There will certainly be copyright issues to work out, but it is in everyone's best interest to make this an open system, rather than a closed one. Since Google already provides the Web search on Amazon.com as well as AdWords content-targeted ads, it makes sense for these two titans to work out something together, rather than for Amazon to go it alone.

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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