Google Print (hat tip Diablo). The new service lets people search within the text of a book. Interestingly, I note that Amazon has a search inside this book feature too (how long has that been live? first time I've seen it). Both Google and Amazon searches are limited by copyright. In Google's words:Google has just released its beta book search product
"...you'll only able to see a limited portion – in some cases only a few sentences – of books that are still under copyright. If the book has no copyright restrictions and is considered public domain, then you can browse the entire book."
I gave Google Print a test run and found the range of books I could search pretty limited.
However I came across a fascinating result when I searched for my own name "macmanus". The first search result was a book by Stephen Fox called The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators. Check out the following passage and note the eerie similarities with the previous post here on my blog, about a brand association-based model for ads in RSS. The following is set in the early part of the 20th century:
'The leading advocate of advertising by atmosphere and suggestion was Theodore F. MacManus. As the star copywriter for General Motors, he produced ads specifically tailored to a particular kind of product. Cars like Buick and Cadillac were expensive items that customers bought infrequently, usually after careful planning and scrimping. So MacManus did not try to persuade his readers to go right out and buy the product. Instead, he aimed to build a durable image of reliable quality, year after year, that would send the consumer to General Motors whenever the big decision to buy was made. [...] in the same unhurried way that two people become friends, he aimed to build a friendship based on a slow accumulation of favorable impressions. "The real suggestion to convey," he insisted, "is that the man manufacturing the product is an honest man, and that the product is an honest product, to be preferred above all others."'
Looks like I may have a few things in common with Theodore MacManus, who died in 1940 btw (hence the slightly sexist language!). What he was talking about in that passage, and other sections in the Fox book, has a lot in common with my proposed solution for RSS advertising. Weird also that I even used cars as the main example in my post, without knowing anything about Theodore until today.
All of this is something I probably would never have discovered, were it not for a way to search inside a book!
nb: I had to type the above passage out, because Google prevents users from copying and pasting. Hopefully in time that sort of copyright 'fear and loathing' from print publishers will subside, as there are a world of benefits in letting Web users post extracts from books (see my interview last year with Tim O'Reilly for more on that).
Anyway, back to Google Print. It had 24 pages to show me related to the "macmanus" search in the Fox book. Amazon had 25 pages to show me for that same search, so in that respect it seems the search quality for Google and Amazon is similar.
This is an interesting development from Google and Amazon, although it's been in the works for a while. I'll have more to say on this in future posts. In the meantime, I'm off to go buy that Stephen Fox book ;-)