HarperCollins and Random House are finally joining the “search this book” tide by offering searchable texts that even allow you to post some material on social networking sites like MySpace.
Eventually, I suppose this will be how students retrieve text to paste into a writing project or paper. But the ability to search a text for ideas or phrases is the more interesting effect. You can already purchase electronic versions of some textbooks, well worth the cost to be able to search when you are writing or studying.
Once, when I had a job compiling bibliographies for A Companion to Melville Studies (Greenwood 1986), and was young and energetic and naïve, I actually went page by page through Melville’s Mardi searching for a reference one of the writers didn’t document. What was I thinking?
[I know it’s not Friday, but I’m posting anyway.]