The search form on the lefthand side of the Amazon home page is the
most widely used way to find items. A couple of keywords can get you
surprisingly close to what you're looking for. But if you'd like to
do more sophisticated searches, you'll have to use the Advanced
Search form or learn Amazon's Power Search syntax.
Amazon offers an Advanced Book Search
form on their web site at http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ats-query-page.
This form allows you to search for a specific title, author, subject,
ISBN, or publisher. And you can narrow your search by format, reader
age, language, or publication date.
The query in will return all books by
O'Reilly with the word "Mac" in the title.
Figure 1. Amazon Advanced Search page
Beyond Advanced Search, there's a way to perform
even more finely tuned searches of the product database: Power
Search. A Power Search uses a special query syntax to define what
you're looking for. The syntax consists of field/value pairs that are
put together with connecting words like "or" or "and." To perform the
same query, we'd include the publisher and
title fields with the appropriate values:
publisher:O'Reilly and title:Mac
To run the search, paste this into the Power Search form at the
bottom of the Advanced Search page at http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ats-query-page#powersearch.
There are several fields available to help narrow your search:
pubdate - [before, during, after] date
With all of these options, you can see how queries could quickly
become very specific. Let's say we wanted to find not only O'Reilly's
books with the subject "Mac," but also all O'Reilly books where the
title starts with "Mac":
publisher:O'Reilly and (subject:Mac or title-begins:Mac)
Grouping sections of the queries with parentheses and specifying
"and" or "or" allows you to do much more than is possible through the
standard Advanced Search form. Just having access to the
keywords field is a big advantage. Let's say
you're interested in more than just the books
about Macs that O'Reilly publishes—you're
interested in any book remotely related to Macs. That's a perfect use
publisher:O'Reilly and keywords:Mac
Or, just to show how specific you can get, here's another query:
publisher:O'Reilly and keywords:Mac and pubdate:before 2003 and not [RETURN]
title-begins:Mac and not subject:Mac
If you're getting the hang of Power Searches, you'll see that this
query searches for all O'Reilly books with the keyword "Mac"
published before 2003, where the title doesn't actually start with
"Mac" and the book isn't directly about the subject "Mac".
Power Search URLs
Once again, you can bypass the form
altogether. Make sure your Power Search query is URL encoded and then you can add it
into a standard search URL by adding the prefix
You may notice some other variables in
this URL. Specifically, sz can be useful to play
with: it lets you specify the size of the result set. The default is
10, but if you want more to be returned in a single page, increase it
to something larger (in this case, 100).