The service, dubbed "Search Inside the Book," lets people type in any keyword and receive results for all the pages and titles of various books that contain that term. In the past, Amazon customers could search only by author name, title or keyword. The search feature works with around 120,000 titles from 190 publishers, which translates into some 33 million pages of searchable text.
The service, launched as a partnership with the publishers that are displaying the titles, has been combined with the site's standard search.
"Innovation drives customer experience, and Search Inside the Book is a great example," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "With the help of publishers, we're offering a completely new way for people to find the books they want."
Customers can choose to click on the results, which will display an excerpt with that word or phrase, and a link to more references to the keyword in the same book. These references lead to a list of excerpts from all pages on the selected book, as well as a link to view the full page. People will be able to preview relevant pages if they have a free Amazon account.
Amazon has been showing a greater interest in search,, an independent unit to develop e-commerce search technology, as an attempt to gain a foothold in the lucrative market dominated by Google and Yahoo. The new unit is charged with building a shopping search tool for internal use and for other companies. The retailer is striving to make its mark in transactions outside of the books, apparel and sporting goods sold through its online mall.