(Over on the Intel Software Network blog, software ninja Clay Breshears put up a post today about why he will “Never Own an Electronic Book”. Turns out his frustration stems from how hard it is to search for something, if you don’t know exactly what you’re searching for. This is a problem not just for ebooks and readers like the Kindle, but for the web and our text-oriented world in general.
I typed up a response to Clay in a comment, which I’m reproducing here, because I think it illustrates that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and not yet as good as they should be.)
Clay, you make a very good point, but it seems to be aimed at the effectiveness of search in general, rather than just on ebook readers (though they suffer in the same way). Just like prices can only come down, I hope that natural language search can only get better from here.
That said, as a rabid Kindle fan, the situation there might not be as bad as you fear.
When you search on a Kindle, it searches across all the books you have on the device (it indexes them during idle time while you’re reading, and new books show up in the index quickly). And here’s what the search results page looks like:
Image credit Robert Mohns via Flickr
It shows you how many results were found in each book, and by selecting that book, you can quickly skip back and forth between the hits.
Notice that there are also options to find results from the web, Wikipedia, the Kindle Store, and the built-in dictionary on the Kindle, if what you’re looking for isn’t in one of your books.
Search DOES need to get better, but I’m pretty happy with how well it works on the Kindle today. Come by next time you’re in the neighborhood, and I’ll give you a demo!