Rensselaer Libraries

Amazon.com As a Research Tool

Posted: Dec 16, 2010

SEARCH INSIDE! TM

Books for which Amazon has received an electronic file from the publisher are labeled SEARCH INSIDE TM . This allows Amazon to provide the following information:

  • Table of Contents
  • Index
  • Excerpts and Cover information

In addition, Amazon scans the complete text of the book, and can offer additional functionality.

Mouse over the image of a book that is labeled SEARCH INSIDE! TM and for many non-fiction books you will see an information box with links to

  • Books on related Topics, based on SIPs

From Amazon: “This feature helps you find books on similar topics to the book that you are currently viewing. We determine whether two books discuss similar topics by looking at the Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs," that occur in both books. The more SIPs the two books share, the more closely related they are.”

  • Concordance, indexes 100 most commonly occurring words.

From Amazon: “Concordance is an alphabetized list of the most frequently occurring words in a book, excluding common words such as "of" and "it." The font size of a word is proportional to the number of times it occurs in the book. Hover your mouse over a word to see how many times it occurs, or click on a word to see a list of book excerpts containing that word.”

  • Citations, including both books cited in this title and other books that cite this title. For works of fiction, this section will include citations for any excerpts of other works that are cited.
  • “Search inside this book” search box that allows you to search the fulltext of the book.

To the right of SEARCH INSIDE TM books, you may see a list of SIPs, Statistically Improbable Phrases.

From Amazon: “Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside!™ program. To identify SIPs, our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside! program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to all Search Inside! books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

SIPs are not necessarily improbable within a particular book, but they are improbable relative to all books in Search Inside!. For example, most SIPs for a book on taxes are tax related. But because we display SIPs in order of their improbability score, the first SIPs will be on tax topics that this book mentions more often than other tax books. For works of fiction, SIPs tend to be distinctive word combinations that often hint at important plot elements.

Click on a SIP to view a list of books in which the phrase occurs. You can also view a list of references to the phrase in each book.”

There may also be a list of CAPs, Capitalized Phrases.

From Amazon: “Capitalized Phrases, or "CAPs", are people, places, events, or important topics mentioned frequently in a book. Along with our Statistically Improbable Phrases, Capitalized Phrases give you a quick glimpse into a book's contents.

Click on a Capitalized Phrase to view a list of books in which the phrase occurs. You can also view a list of references to the Capitalized Phrase in each book.

For example, if you're looking at a Sherlock Holmes mystery, you can click on "Professor Moriarty" to see a list of books that feature or mention Holmes's nemesis.

In order to use the SEARCH INSIDE! TM features, you must first create an Amazon account.

For more information on SEARCH INSIDE! TM , go to the Amazon.com Help Page.

There is a “bookmarklet” that you can install in your browser’s link toolbar. After you've "installed" it by dragging it to your browser's link toolbar, you can use it to look up books at your local library. From a specific book's info page on a book-related site (Amazon, BN), you can click your bookmarklet to check if the book is available in your local library. The bookmarklet will invoke your library's lookup service, feed it the ISBN, and pop up a new window with the result. For more information, go to The LibraryLookup Project. The applet for our catalog is available on the Find Books page.

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