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Amazon text search

Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
"Starting today, every word (33 million) in ALL the books (270,000) sold at Amazon.com can now be searched word for word."
http://g-images.amazon.com/images/G/01//books/inside/jeff-letter-2.gif
How It Works.
[ October 23, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
John Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
"Starting today, every word (33 million) in ALL the books (270,000) sold at Amazon.com can now be searched word for word."
Very nice feature, although I don't think the search works for all the books, -- rather "books participating in our Search Inside the Book feature". For example, a search for "java" returns 138 results, and among the first 10 results, only 4 list excerpts from the book.
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
I copied it from http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/29120 and assumed they copied it from some kind of official announcement. Was in hurry to post it here and did not even scroll the page down.
This post said "The good people at Amazon have indexed the full text of 120,000 books (with, presumably, more to come)"...
John Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
I didn't notice it at first, but you can read the entire pages where your search phrase occurs, -- not just half a sentence. Pretty amazing.
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
"Starting today, every word (33 million) in ALL the books (270,000) sold at Amazon.com can now be searched word for word."
http://g-images.amazon.com/images/G/01//books/inside/jeff-letter-2.gif
How It Works.
[ October 23, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

I was rudely surprised by this "enhancement" this morning seeking to sate my bibliophilic habit. I noticed a lot of non-relevant books were retrieved. I am not pleased
I could see having this as an optional search option when nothing else is working, but making it the default is too much - the fact that a phrase occurs in a book doesn't not mean you will have any interest in the book - think of all the quotes from completely different subjects appear in totally unrelated books.
[ October 23, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
John Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
Well, it looked like it worked for phrases, but actually it doesn't. The search for "to be or not to be" simply returns an assorted set of books where any of the terms occur. Shakespeare is nowhere to be found. So now I am disappointed.
Richard Hawkes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 1340
As Statler and Waldorf might say:
More.
More.
More.
More.
Bravo.
Its wonderful.
Its great.
Its good.
Yeah I like a lot of it.
There are parts I don't like.
Well, its not that good.
Oh, Yeah?
Horrendous.
Its terrible.
Its the worst thing I ever saw.
Boo.
Boo.
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:
As Statler and Waldorf might say:
More.
More.
More.
More.
Bravo.
Its wonderful.
Its great.
Its good.
Yeah I like a lot of it.
There are parts I don't like.
Well, its not that good.
Oh, Yeah?
Horrendous.
Its terrible.
Its the worst thing I ever saw.
Boo.
Boo.

Well, I was first to reach "Boo" stage
Marilyn de Queiroz
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9047
    
  10
Perhaps all those books quote Shakespeare. I searched for "to be or not to be" (in quotes) (space) Shakespeare and got 131 results.


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"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11417
    
  16

Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
The search for "to be or not to be" simply returns an assorted set of books where any of the terms occur.

you are doing a search on 4 rather common words in the english language, and you're upset that it found a large number of books? i did a search for "yorrick" and "slings", and a shakespeare came up #4.
yes, being able to search on an entire phrase would be nice, but i think this is a pretty significant acheivment. I'm impressed.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by fred rosenberger:

you are doing a search on 4 rather common words in the english language, and you're upset that it found a large number of books? i did a search for "yorrick" and "slings", and a shakespeare came up #4.
yes, being able to search on an entire phrase would be nice, but i think this is a pretty significant acheivment. I'm impressed.

Did a search on "m-commerce", not a terribly common phrase, and got "over 32,000 results" in books. This is horrendous. Similar results on other searches on other topics. And if you try to sort some of the even smaller result sets by customer review or date, it seemed (by chance no doubt) that only the books I wasn't interested in always appeared in the first 100 books. God this sucks.
How did they come up with this monstrosity? Any thinking, literate person would be aware that many authors use quotes, examples, analogies, etc from completely, totally unrelated fields that will not be of any interest to the average person doing the search. Yes , there will times when this is helpful, but to make it the default [ insert long insulting paragraph ]
[ October 24, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
Eric Pascarello
author
Rancher

Joined: Nov 08, 2001
Posts: 15376
    
    6
Try searching JavaRanch?
I was expecting more then that.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by herb slocomb:
God this sucks.
If you don't like it then don't use it. Give someone something for free and all they do is gripe.
:roll:


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
Did a search on "m-commerce", not a terribly common phrase, and got "over 32,000 results" in books.
Put quotes around it. 208 results in books.
Since both m and commerce are very common, I switched to "friedman-hill" for testing. It seems that a search on
friedman-hill
is equivalent to
friedman hill
that is, it gets results with both friedman and hill, not necessarily together. While
friedman -hill
gets all friedmans with no hill. And
"friedman-hill"
gets just friedman-hill, as you'd expect.
Once you move to "search inside book" rather than general search, the treatment of quotes seems to change, and I can't get good results. But it seems as though using quotes works well from the general seach page, but not within a book.
It woud certainly be nice if (a) they had a page explaining just how their search syntax works invarious contexts - i.e. when do quotes work, what effect does '-' have, etc., and (b) as Herb suggests, full text search should not probably be the default, since it returns way too many results if you omit quotes. Though (b) may be ameliorated if enough people learn about the quotes from (a).
It's still a very cool feature, but I hope this isn't its final form; they've got some bugs to address.


"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
If you don't like it then don't use it.
I believe Herb's point is that the new search has replaced the old one, such that searches that worked well in the past no longer are effective. (Though I think this can usually be fixed by using quotes.) They only way to "not use it" now is to not use Amazon period, which probably wasn't Amazon's intent. Though you're right that it is free, and we shouldn't presume Amazon must do things a certain way - but if Amazon wants to keep customers, the might want to iron out a few problems here.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Regular search seems to work the same way it always did. Type in Ernest Friedman-Hill or Jess in Action without quotes and you get the results you would expect.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
I think that's because those words are unique enough that they don't really occur in the text of books other than the ones you're searching for. For other searches, you get a lot more results than you would have under the old search, because amazon is now reporting occurrances in text as well as occurrances in title or author. (Or whatever other fields they used to search.) Admittedly, you can restrict yourself to a title search by going to the search page and using only the fields you want. The problem is just that the default mode of searching will now return many more results than it used to, in some cases. Of course for some this isn't a problem; it's the whole point. We just have to learn how to use the different search types most effectively, as things don't work the same way they used to.
[ October 24, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
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subject: Amazon text search