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Tired of digging through lists of search results for the right information? Looking for a dossier-style approach to your Web searches, with personal notes and Web, image, and Yellow Page results aligned side by side? Amazon's A9 search engine might be your answer. This groundbreaking service delivers several searches at once, arranged in a series of collapsible columns. It also tracks your search history, stores bookmarks and diary entries, and rewards regular users with discounts at Amazon.com. Though privacy mavens will be concerned, those willing to trust A9's privacy assurances will have a powerful--and unique--search tool at their disposal.
A9's main screen is deceptively simple: just a search box surrounded by a handful of help and login links, with four buttons in the right-hand column: Your History, Your Bookmarks, Discover, and Your Diary. Type in any search term, and along with the standard Web results, you'll also get a few more right-hand buttons: Images, Movies, Books, and Reference. If you click, say, the Images button, an image-results column appears next to your Web results. Click Reference, and A9 populates a third column with a potpourri of info, ranging from biographical notes (for people searches) to geographical info, dictionary and encyclopedia entries, and even translations. Want more? A9 lets you add unique searches from NYTimes.com, BritishLibrary, ThinkGeek, Wikipedia, Yellow Pages, AccuWeather, About.com, InfoWorld, and more. Are all those columns getting crowded? Just click a button to close a column, or click and drag the side of a column to enlarge or reduce its size.