Now Amazon lets you search the full text of its books. This is astounding, not only because of the further differences it highlights between Amazon and traditional bookstores, but because of the effort it must have taken to accomplish. The text seems to be from scans of pages, subjected to an OCR process. And not just the bulk of popular books, either. They’ve got all sorts of wild and wooly volumes available this way.
I don’t know how truly useful it will be, since full text searching can be extremely noisy, even before the OCR noise is factored in. Searching for “Ned Batchelder” (what else do people test searches first with?) found this:
received a preliminary version of the 2001 decommissfonfng study, which deferm(ned that EE wiff have to fund about $312 million
Still and all, a remarkable feature, in an overwhelming brute force kind of way.