Search Full-Text within 4M+ Books

Open Library now lets you search inside the text contents of over 4M books!

A Full-Text Search for “thanks for all the fish” on

What’s Full-Text Search?

Many book websites, like Amazon and Goodreads, give you the ability to search for books by title and author, but they don’t make it easy to find books based on their contents. This type of searching is called “Full-Text Search”.

Try searching for “brewster kahle alexa internet” on Goodreads or Amazon:

A search for “brewster kahle alexa internet” on goodreads

A search for “brewster kahle alexa internet” on amazon books

Have you ever heard a quote and wished you could figure out which book it came from? Open Library full-text search gives readers the ability to locate books which reference any snippet of text like, “Let every thing have its place“:

A full-text search on of “let every thing have its place”

Full-Text Search on

I’ve been surprised to learn how many people didn’t know that has had full-text search for several years — and its really powerful! In 2016, Giovanni Damiola (@giovannidamiola) led a major overhaul of Internet Archive’s full-text search system and unlocked the ability for users to perform full-text searches across almost 40M unique text documents — from patents, to yearbooks, to open-access research papers.

How to activate Full-Text Search mode on


Full-Text Search of the quote “let every thing have its place” on

Open Library Full-Text Search

When you search across 40M documents, it can be a challenge to find the one you’re looking for. One feature which Open Library has been missing is a way to limit Internet Archive’s full-text search to only include results from books on Open Library. So for the last two years, Open Library has patiently waited to take full advantage of full-text search for its users.

Earlier this week, Gio released an improvement to our full-text search engine which lets us get around this historical limitation — and so we jumped on this opportunity to improve our search on! With the help of Razzi Abuissa, Open Library volunteer, and Mek, Open Library’s project lead, you can now search inside more than 4M Open Library books.

Try a Full-Text Search

Thanks for all the fish! …Wait, what book was that from again?


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  1. Anton
    Posted July 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Great! Thanks a lot for making this happen.

  2. Posted August 18, 2018 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    Still enjoying the fish after all these years. One of the best books ever. Compare to”The Sirens of Titan”.

  3. Jennifer Omorodion
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Interesting!!! Beautiful organisation of the web. Keep improving and creating these impressive user friendly atmosphere.

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