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Amazon Unveils Full Text Searches

E-commerce superstore Amazon.com on Thursday raised the curtains on a new "Search Inside the Book" feature that lets shoppers preview full text of titles.

The Seattle-based Amazon.com said the new service has been tightly integrated into the existing book search area of its home page to let shoppers find titles based on every word inside more than 120,000 books. The feature, which has the approval of book publishers, puts some 33 million pages of searchable text at the disposal of Amazon.com shoppers.

The full-text search feature, which had been rumored for months, returns an image of the page where the keyword search appears. A shopper looking for a book about space travels can simply enter a keyword like "journey into space" and find all books at Amazon.com that contain that phrase term in the text.

Once the shopper clicks on the link to a specific page and logs in with an Amazon.com user name and password, the company would allow the preview of relevant pages and the ability to search for other terms of interest with the book.

It is yet another attempt by online retailer Amazon.com to trump its main rival BarnesandNoble.com in the online book sales business.

"Innovation drives customer experience, and 'Search Inside the Book' is a great example...We're offering a completely new way for people to find the books they want," Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

The release of 'Search Inside the Book' comes less than a month after Amazon.com announced it would spin off a subsidiary to invest and develop e-commerce search technologies.

The A9 subsidiary, which has quietly set up shop in Palo Alto, Calif., is being headed by former Amazon.com vice president and chief algorithms officer Udi Manber. The company will officially launch at the end of October with approximately 30 employees.

The launch of a subsidiary to create e-commerce searching technologies puts Amazon.com in direct competition with Google's Froogle comparison shopping engine, a tool that lets visitors browse through the merchandise categories, or type in a search term to see pictures of items and links to online stores that carry them.