Friday, November 17, 2006

Search Inside - the Amazon feature

Amazon has been a useful research tool for some time. Only today, though, have I made us of its 'search inside' feature. It's terrific - put in your phrase and the search engine delivers all the references from books scanned in to the system.
As a writer I'm not convinced it boosts sales - the pages that come up onscreen (which aren't printable) generally give me just the informtaion I am looking for, and should I want more I'll head to the library. As a researcher I can only admire it. In writing about J.S.Haldane it also places me in a much wider field than I hitherto thought existed. He holds a place in many books. Happily I'm not learning that much as I scan them, and I am mentally correcting some pieces that I find, but good new material and info does appear.
Since Amazon does major in books, I guess it's fair to note this free gift of a research tool to writers. I suppose in years to come we'll just plug in to the Library of Congress of Bodleian site, press in our research terms, head out for a walk, and come home to find our years of research collected, sifted and sorted. That odd rare book that has never been scanned in will possibly become the most treasured volume on earth.

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