All Hail Amazon!
Say you’re researching a partner in a prominent financial firm, or a member of the Rockefeller family. You know the library has a book on the firm, or the family—but does it mention your prospect? Is it worth going down to the library to check the index?
First, try Amazon. Look for relevant books: let’s say, David Rockefeller’s Memoirs, published in 2003. Check for a little green box that says “Search Inside This Book.” Enter a name, or a word, or a phrase.
Amazon will do a full-text search, and give you links to every page on which your search term appears, including its entry in the index. (Did you know. for example, that the word “Harvard” shows up 49 times in David Rockefeller’s memoirs, while Yale appears five times? Of course, he attended Harvard.) Click on a link, and you get an image of the page on which your term appears--and the two pages before and after it.
The “search this book” link doesn’t appear for everything Amazon sells, of course. But it seems to be getting more common for nonfiction. And when you do find it, it’s a gold mine—it can save you a trip to the library, or tell you when it’s worth buying a volume to keep on your shelf.