Amazon just came out with a new feature that has to be one the most fantastic things on the net yet. They have scanned 120 000 books and you can now search through them and read the few surrounding pages online! They have an overview of the feature and Wired just prepublished an article from the December issue that covers this new advancement.
With persistence, serendipity and plenty of time in a library, I may have found these titles myself. The Amazon archive is dizzying not because it unearths books that would necessarily have languished in obscurity, but because it renders their contents instantly visible in response to a search. It allows quick query revisions, backtracking, and exploration. It provides a new form of map.
For example, I searched for “Ultimate Fribee” (I’m leaving for a game soon) and the results are surprising including mentions in Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation and The Best Man’s Handbook: A Guy’s Guide to the Big Event . In this case it’s only funny but imagine the possibilities when doing some research. Very powerful and promising. Now if they could add the same thing for movie and tv show dialogues I could flush out most of the content of my head and just find it again at Amazon :).
[Later] A pretty insightful story by Steve Berlin Johnson with some good ideas of where the book search could go.