Cool Stuffs at Amazon

I like companies like Amazon. They always have cool ideas to do traditional business with high-tech ways. Here are some examples.

Search Inside

Amazon is offering the “Search Inside” feature. It allows customers to search every word inside a book. To me, it means more like a feature of “READ inside”. I can quickly search a keyword in a book, and read the sample pages containing the word. I hope one day, when most books offer Search Inside feature, I can simply visit Amazon to search for a word that is in a book on my hand – just the F3 key of my hard copy book.

This service will add more values to both publisher and reader. It generates interest to buy the book. I wanted to buy after I read some sample chapters.

Update More on Search Inside December 31, 2003

Xu asked:

And you just tickled me, I became eager to know how you quickly search a keyword in a book, and read the sample pages containing the word.

Here are the steps.

  1. Choose a topic. Since not all books offer Search Inside feature, some topics, like weblogs, are more likely to offre books with Search Inside features than other topics like cooking. Let’s take weblog as the topic.
  2. Search for books with the keyword using the search box on the left of home page.
  3. In search result, look for Search Inside! mark on the book. Here are an example for We Blog.

    Image courtesy of

  4. Click on the book for the book details page. You need to continue to click on the book cover with Search Inside! mark for the second time to come to the Book Preview page.
  5. You will see a green box titled Search inside this book,

    Screen shot courtesy of

  6. Enter a keyword into the box – you can find the keyword you are interested in the Index Page. Then you will see the sample pages – typically 5 pages are shown once.

You will be prompted to enter your credit card if you didn’t do so before. I dont’ know the limit of sample pages I can see – I didn’t reach the limit yet.

Purchase Circles

Amazon can list the best sellers according to many different groups. For example, this is a list of best sellers shipped to China and here is the top books Sun employees buy.

This is how it is made:

We group the items we send to particular zip and postal codes, and the items ordered from each domain name. We then aggregate this anonymous data and apply an algorithm that constructs bestseller lists of items that are more popular with each specific group than with the general population. No personally identifiable information is used to create Purchase Circle lists. The regularity with which a Purchase Circle is updated depends on its size and activity of a Purchase Circle group. Large Purchase Circles are updated weekly; smaller ones are updated monthly. [Source: Purchase Circle FAQ from

Any provider with data is the king…

P.S. Another Blog Award Begins

End of 2003 sees many votes and awards. Year-end is the time to review the year and find out something big to be memorized.

The Asia Weblog Award just ended. The result will come out soon. It is a pity that many good blogs are not nominated under the “anyone can vote but no one takes care of quality and coverage” mechanism. There should be a clear and verifiable way to ensure the quality of result.

Voting itself is not a good way to identify good blog. The review of a reputable committee based on voting results may be better.

Now the Best China English Blog voting started. It is organized by major blog service providers and players. I definitely support it since it is a very good initiative to bring awareness to blog world and identity those good blogs. However, I still didn’t see the logic behind why the blog with most votes is best. I’d like to thank those who worked very hard to make it happen. I know it is not easy.

WilliamW is very kind to vote for me. Thanks for your effort. I really appreciate it.

Wendy Became a Writer

Another interesting thing in life is that I just discovered that Wendy is a good writer. She posted an article named The Era of Post-Growth (Chinese). Very good article. I like it.

5 thoughts on “Cool Stuffs at Amazon

  1. Wow, this time I think you have more chance to win the trophy. Look! now you are just ranked on the top! And it looks much easier to vote, just by twise click.

    You deseave to be proud of Wendy, she is a really excellent writer. Why did you not notice her genius until now? :-) is the term of “The Era of Post-Growth” her invention by spark?

    And you just tickled me, I became eager to know how you quickly search a keyword in a book, and read the sample pages containing the word.

  2. Happy new year ! May 2004 be a great year !

    Thank you for your concrete details of search inside books.

    Yes, such translating machine doesn’t work at all. That is why we need to learn foreign language in heart. I believe however improved the machine would be, it never reach our human’s spiritual realm.

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