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Search Inside Books at Amazon

June 25, 2016 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified June 30, 2016

If you’re like me, you like to open a book at a bookstore, search through the pages to see what’s actually inside, maybe read parts of a chapter or five.

But maybe you didn’t realize that you can do that same kind of search inside books at Amazon. Well, inside some books at Amazon.

There are two levels of looking into a book at Amazon. There’s the common Look Inside feature that allows you a glimpse into a few pages of most books. And then there’s the Search Inside feature that allows you to browse through a book almost the same way you’d browse through a physical book in your hands.

A few comments at a couple of different social sites and forums led me to believe that not everyone knows about Search Inside, so I thought I’d share a quick rundown on the feature.


Not every book has the Search Inside feature enabled—the author or publisher must approve it and set it up. But when the feature is enabled, most of the book is opened to the prospective buyer, just as it is in a physical bookstore with physical hold–em–in–your–hands books.

There are a few limitations, however; Amazon doesn’t open every book to every casual browser.

You may get to browse more of any one book if you’re signed in to your Amazon account as you search.

You may also be offered a different browsing experience if you’ve purchased books recently.

I’ve read that there are different results given these (and possibly other) conditions, so you may want to play around.

Here’s a screenshot of Search Inside. I entered subtext as the search term in the search box in the left column. Amazon returned 10 results—10 pages on which the word subtext could be found.




Click on the results in the left column to go to a particular page on which a word or phrase is found. You can then scroll forward or backward through the text from that point.

Searching inside a book is that simple. Use the Search Inside feature to get a clearer picture of what a book contains., maybe to see if a topic you’re looking for is in a book. But do keep in mind that there are limitations. Amazon lets you see a lot, but not the full text.

Happy reading.

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Tags:     Posted in: Beyond the Writing

10 Responses to “Search Inside Books at Amazon”

  1. Beth, I’d like to add that this “look inside” feature is a real boon for editors working on bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes. I often use this feature to get publisher information from the CIP (copyright) page, which can almost always be accessed by “looking inside.”

  2. Joanna says:

    Thanks – I am one of those who did not know about that. The Amazon feature I use most is the free sample sent to a Kindle account – it is usually enough to decide whether I want to continue reading or not and I would not feel comfortable just reading the whole first chapter in a shop.

    • Joanna, free Kindle samples are great too. I buy books from favorite authors (fiction) without needing to read any of the book, but if I’m checking out a new-to-me author or nonfiction, I want a look inside. I’ve never felt uncomfortable reading a chapter or more in a store. If I read that much, it’s likely that I’m going to buy the book.

      I used to spend several hours a week in Borders. I always found a handful of books to take home with me. I haven’t found a replacement bookstore yet—neither Barnes and Noble nor Books-a-Million make me want to hang around the way Borders did.

  3. Thank you so much for this, Beth! I’ve shared this information online. Thanks for all you do to assist writers.