Amazon’s new Search Inside preview, and an idea for Amazon

(Amazon’s new Search Inside preview, originally uploaded by mathowie)

I haven’t heard that Amazon updated the “Search Inside” feature with a whizbang new page browsing interface until I stumbled upon it last night. It’s very easy to use, quicker than the old method, and honestly it’s the first thing that comes close to standing in a store and leafing through a book.

Like the old book preview, it lets you browse through about 20 pages before blocking you, but this book in the screenshot had so many good garden ideas, I bought it from Amazon.

So here’s my idea for Amazon: copy something from the book of O’reilly. They have these services called Rough Cuts and Safari which help them sell books online. The cool thing that O’reilly does is once you purchase say, the Flickr Hacks book, they give you instant online access to the full text as a PDF.

Now, I’m not saying Amazon should give away PDF copies of everything I buy (though that does sound cool, I imagine the publishers would go apeshit over it), but you’ve got this great reader interface now and the full content of the entire book. After I purchase the book and it’s on the way to my door, how about lifting the 20 page limit on viewing?

Why not offer full online access to purchased books immediately after purchase (provided customers agree they can’t cancel the book order after viewing the content)? I know this book will get here on Tuesday, but it’d be cool if I could leaf through the whole thing and look at the rest of the pictures (what I normally do in a store — I buy and take it home to read the full text).

update: D’oh: They already have this (sadly, not many books are eligible — thanks Jason)

links for 2006-05-19

Let’s begin the healing

Dear Phone Companies,

I see you’ve violated the privacy policies I signed onto your service with, by giving away data about all my calls placed, who they were placed to, and how long I talked. The third party you gave them to in this instance was the US Government, who did it in an “ends justify the means so we can break the law if we have to” way. I understand your hands were tied and you had to give up the goods. But we can make this right.

I live in a state where one area code covers a great deal of the residents, but I’m required to dial ten digits to local numbers, add a 1 for long distance. The funny thing is, even if it’s the same area code, I as a consumer have no idea if I should add a one, but your helpful service blocks my calls and tells me when to redial, with or without a 1. On top of that, if someone with a different area code lives nearby, I might not have to dial a 1, even though I always do on different area codes. It’s really a mysterious system to us end users.

Lemme change gears for a second; in the last decade I’ve enjoyed using a cellphone that is smart enough to add a 1 or take it away as it sees fit. I just dial ten numbers and whether it’s across the street or across the country, the call goes through. It’s amazingly handy.

So here is how you can get in my good graces again: you’re the phone company and you know when I need to dial a 1 or not, because you tell me to. But here’s the thing — and I know it might sound crazy — why don’t you automatically resubmit the number with the appropriate change instead of making me key it all in again?

That’s the deal. Handle dialed phone numbers with the same technology a cellphone in 1995 had, and I’ll overlook your end of the breach-of-privacy deal. I’ll take my issues with that violation to the government.

Paying for camouflage

macbookglossydisplay20060516.jpg Apple rules. If you take a look at the new MacBook order page, you’ll notice a black ibook/macbook will run you $150* over a white one with identical specs.

Apple is charging people if they want a laptop that looks like a windows PC.


* The black one is $200 more, but for $50 you can upgrade the middle-tier white one to a 80Gb hard drive, hence, the $150 price difference for two totally identical macbooks.