October 31, 2003, 12:00 AM

Amazon dives into books in a radically new way

Amazon has launched a service called Search Inside the Book that allows shoppers to search for any word in any of 120,000 books.

One of the things that has set Amazon.com Inc. apart from other online retailers is that no matter how big Amazon gets, it’s always looking for new ways to do business. The latest: a new service called Search Inside the Book.

Hard on the heels of its report that revenue grew 33% year-over-year in the third quarter to $1.13 billion, from $851 million-and that it lodged net income of $16 million, compared to a loss a year ago of $35 million-Amazon rolled out a feature that allows shoppers to search for any word in any of 120,000 books. Those 120,000 represent titles from more than 190 publishers, including Time Warner Book Group, Simon & Schuster Inc. and Random House Inc., and more than 33 million pages of text.

“Innovation drives customer experience, and Search Inside the Book is a great example,” said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “With the help of publishers, we’re offering a completely new way for people to find the books they want.”

It works like this: A customer who wants to find books on, say, “resistojet propulsion,” to use Amazon’s own example, can search on Amazon for “resistojet” and see a list of all books on Amazon that contain that term either in text or in the book title. By registering as a customer and clicking on a link to any of those books, the shopper can view excerpts of the book and click another link to see the full page on which the excerpt appears.

The Search Inside the Book builds on a Look Inside the Book feature that offered only limited pages to online browsers. In spite of the large number of pages available, Amazon says it is not possible to read an entire book at the site.

As part of its financial announcement, Amazon says it expects strong sales to continue, driven partly by its free-shipping offers, and to produce record sales in the forthcoming holiday season. Amazon says it expects fourth-quarter net sales to rise 23% to 34% year-over-year, to $1.76 billion to $1.91 billion. Full-year net sales are expected to reach $5.75 billion to $6.25 billion.

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