Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2004 Issue

Amazon Introduces (sort of)<br>A New Search Engine with<br>&#147;Search Inside the Book&#148;

Amazonsearch

Amazon's &#147;A9&#148; search provides three columns of results: web, inside the book, and your search history.


By Michael Stillman

Amazon-Dot-Com, the world’s largest bookseller, is sort-of making another move beyond its core business. Of course Amazon moved well beyond that core ages ago. A look at their website today reveals a myriad of categories beyond books from which to buy: apparel, electronics, toys, home and garden, tools and hardware. As I look at their site this morning, I also see offers for software, the Star Wars DVD, music (or should that be “music”?), a digital camera, and gourmet food. What don’t they sell? But, a search engine? This seems surprising even for Amazon, but here it is. Amazon is testing its own search engine.

This is clearly still in the test phase. Amazon has not made any major announcements. At least in its initial stages, they have been content to make a few oblique references, just enough to allow a few people to try it and generate some feedback. The search page itself is labeled “Beta,” computerese for “this is not yet ready for prime time,” and the site and company name is “A9.com, Inc.,” not Amazon. I’m not sure, but that “A” probably stands for “Amazon.” It’s only at the bottom of the page that it states that A9 is “an Amazon.com company.”

So what is the point of another search engine? What does “A9” do that others don’t? Well, a couple of things. First, Amazon gives you three columns of search results instead of one. The first is a normal internet search. The results are primarily supplied by Google, so the results in this column are almost the same as those you get on a Google search. Almost. I did a search for “William Rufus King” (Franklin Pierce’s vice-president) and found these differences. First, Google sometimes shows second pages from a site. A9 does not. The advantage of seeing another page is it lets you quickly locate the reference you want on that second page. The disadvantage is it reduces the number of different sites that show up on a page, so it may take longer to review all of your results.

The next difference I found is that some sites are really PDF files. If you click on the link, it downloads the file onto your computer. You may not want this. Google states when it is a PDF file, and in most cases, allows you to look at the file as HTML (which means you aren’t creating a file on your computer). Amazon does not tell you this. You click on the link, assuming it’s a website, and it downloads a file on your computer.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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