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Amazon and Full Text

By Anonymous Hero, Section News
Posted on Mon Nov 3rd, 2003 at 03:14:12 PM EST

You've probably tried out the new "search inside the book" at amazon.com. Did you notice what happens when you try to print?

 

First, they've disable the right click, so you can't capture the image of the page. But even better, if you try to print, the page image disappears (and leaves a very odd-looking display as a result). The relevant code in their page appears to be:

<style type="text/css" media="print">
.readerImage {
  display:none;
}

I admit I don't really understand how this works, but the simplicity of it intrigues me. I've been playing with it in a saved copy of the page. I assume it simply doesn't load the image when the print function is selected. The same thing happens during print preview (well, at least that's honest).

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Amazon and Full Text | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 editorial, 0 pending) | Post A Comment
What Amazon Gains (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by kcoyle on Thu Nov 6th, 2003 at 04:25:37 PM EST
(User Info) http://www.kcoyle.net

Adding a feature that people will use (legitimately or not) drives people to the Amazon site where they just might buy. There is nothing for Amazon to lose as long as they can convince the authors to go along with it.

I think this is a key point that we all should be aware of. In the end, this could bring more people to Amazon's site, which is good for sales, even if it results in sales of books that Amazon hasn't presented as full text. This is a very interesting marketing move on Amazon's part. In fact, even if a few authors are "harmed" by this, Amazon will probably come out a winner. It's not about any individual titles, it's about Amazon's bottom line. The end goal is not total security but a balance between overall security, Amazon's profits, and the willingness of publishers and authors to participate.

On another note, Amazon is continuing to modify how it presents the books, and the print controls were apparently not present on day one but were added later. This service will evolve, much like browsers evolved, in response to user behavior. That's what makes this fun to watch.

[ Reply to This ]


Interesting CSS trick... (none / 0) (#1)
by ksclarke (ksclarke @ stanford no spam dot edu) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2003 at 03:27:13 PM EST
(User Info) http://www.stanford.edu/~ksclarke

...but try it with Netscape 4.7 and you can print the image in all its glory... thanks to its lack of a complete CSS implementation I would imagine.

Kevin

--
Out, out brief candle!
... it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
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Dubious protection (none / 0) (#2)
by Harold on Tue Nov 4th, 2003 at 03:05:16 AM EST
(User Info) http://www.haroldbakker.com/

I'm amazed at Amazon's dubious protection methods. Every webdesigner knows you can't rely on javascript and CSS to hide or disable stuff. It's just too easy to circumvent. If one really wanted to print these images one could simply use an older browser to do so (as Kevin noted), but one could also use a modern browser and (temporarily) disable javascript and CSS. And of course there's the good old print screen command. It'll be interesting to see how Amazon develops this.
--
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