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Publisher's Summary

What does the world want? According to John Battelle, a company that answers that question can unlock the most intractable riddles of both business and culture. And for the past few years, that's exactly what Google has been doing.

Jumping into the game long after Yahoo, Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, and other pioneers, Google offered a radical new approach to search, redefined the idea of viral marketing, survived the dotcom crash, and pulled off the largest and most talked about initial public offering in the history of Silicon Valley.

But The Search offers much more than the inside story of Google's triumph. It's also a big-picture book about the past, present, and future of search technology, and the enormous impact it is starting to have on marketing, media, pop culture, dating, job hunting, international law, civil liberties, and just about every other sphere of human interest.

More than any of its rivals, Google has become the gateway to instant knowledge. Hundreds of millions of people use it to satisfy their wants, needs, fears, and obsessions, creating an enormous artifact that Battelle calls "the Database of Intentions". Combined with the databases of thousands of other search-driven businesses, large and small, it all adds up to a goldmine of information that powerful organizations (including the government) will want to get their hands on.

No one is better qualified to explain this entire phenomenon than Battelle, who co-founded Wired and founded The Industry Standard. Perhaps more than any other journalist, he has devoted his career to finding the holy grail of technology. And he has finally found it in search.

For anyone who wants to understand how Google really succeeded, The Search is an eye-opening and indispensable read.

©2005 John Battelle; (P)2005 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This is an excellent, thought-provoking book." (Booklist)
"John Battelle has written a brilliant business book....All searchers should read it." (Walter Isaacson)
"This book ought to be called The Answer. As usual, John Battelle delivers insightful, thought-provoking, and essential reading." (Seth Godin)
"The book is a deeply researched and nimbly reported look at how search has defined the Internet and how it will continue to be a tremendous reflection of culture." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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Trevor Goss

Great book about search in general and google in particular. The book also goes through yahoo, ask, and several other search engines in such a way that gives the reader the appropriate background to understand how Google came about and why it was so revolutionary. The author does a nice job of explaining several technical issues (e.g. Google's page rank algorithm) in such a way that non-technical people can understand.

If you had to pick one book to read to understand the basis for the modern interenet, I think this would be a good choice. I'm in the process of writing the business plan for my company prior to our beta launch and reading/listening to this book caused me to see our product in somewhat of a different light. Translation: it's a powerful and thought provoking book that moves well.

The intro is a little bit slow, but once you get through that part, the rest moves along at rapid pace. I was also impressed that this book told several stories that I'd not heard mentioned in other books. Often times, authors of popular topics or companies will all tell the same legendary tales of the companies greatness. There is some overlap between this book and The Google Story, but this book has its own unique examples that similarly paint the picture of Google's rise to power.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Tale for Our Age

Perhaps it's because I'm an IT guy, but I found this story fascinating, especially since I field questions on Google with regularity. As much a Google User Guide as a history of the most successful search engine of our time, the true remarkability of this story is that it just happened. As you listen, you'll find yourself thinking, "What was I doing with my time while Brin and Page were changing the world?" And if you're like me, you'll say, "Apparently nothing of consequence." Then you'll chastise yourself for your lack of vision. But it's all in good fun, and Battelle does an amazing job at peeling back the layers of two young geniuses who are intensely private in their pursuit of excellence. All-in-all, an excellent study of the Internet at its adolescence. Highly recommended. Especially for IT people.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roger
  • Orlando, Florida United States
  • 08-19-07


I have listed to both this title and "The Google Story". Both are good, but this one is better. I would recommend listing to this one first and the other second.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I thought this was just another book on Google. It has the Google story of course but much more. Very well written (and read) book about search engines, with the emphasis on how they affect business and our way of life. Also introduces the key technical concepts but you don't need to know about IT to read this book. The Google stuff was also great because the writer tells the positives and the negatives in a way that sounds quite objective.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I've been involved in the internet industry since 1994 - this book accurately captures the short history of online search in a way that brought back memories of the last 12 years. It helped me understand the developments and the breakneck pace at which the internet was and is moving. But more important than the history of search that this book describes is the author's insights into the FUTURE of search. It's quite compelling and will make you realize how we truly have only scratched the surface of how the internet will change our lives.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good introduction to the history of search

This book gives a good overview of the history of search, seen from many sides. When i later listened to "the google story", which is much more biased to google, it was very good to have a much broader knowledge about what actually happened. the writer obviously is a real insider, who knows or has met many of the players in the field.
It also talks about the future of search, with for instance mobilephones.
While not a throughout history of any company, it is great as an overview.

The narrator, who is also the author of the book, has a very comfortable voice to listen to.

Only problem about the book? Too short!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ashley
  • Scottsdale, AZ, USA
  • 04-06-06

Not Just For Geeks

I loved this book. The author does an excellent job of describing the inherent problems with search technology, and describes in just enough detail the history behind search development. If you enjoy learning what is behind the stuff you use every day, you will enjoy this book. I have found myself discussing this book with many friends over the past few weeks.

If you use the internet at all (and if you are using audible, I'd say that's a safe bet), you will love The Search.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lex
  • TaipeiTaiwan
  • 02-17-08

data of intent

This book is not about Google eventhough the search action is synonymous with Google which truely is a "cultural revolution". The book's concept of "Data of Intent" is really the crux of this digital revolution. I highly recommend this book since it shows the future of this revolution and clearly demonstate its exploding consequences if we cannot fully manage it. I really enjoy it as it brings to my attention the consequence of the post internet bubble and that there is something powerful left standing after the fall out.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andras
  • Woluwe St Lambert, Belgium
  • 05-06-07

Excellent audiobook

I loved this audiobook, very well structured, clearly put, terribly interesting to all those who have an interest in technology - "search" is everywhere and it's fascinating to know its background and ways of development.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not bad

Starts off slow, but if you can get through the first few chapters, it gets a lot better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom
  • 05-14-10

A bit outdated but still fascinating

If you're like me you probably use a search engine numerous times a day without really thinking about it. Yet they are such an important part of the Internet - a gateway to all the content out there on the web.

This is a fascinating history of search engines, from the early days through to about 2005. It is a bit outdated now as things in the search engine world, just as with the rest of the Internet, change and develop constantly. However, this is a minor niggle with what is otherwise an excellent book.

It focusses inevitably on Google, but is by no means exclusively about Google. It's amazing to think that only 10 or 15 years ago the Internet as we know it was in its infancy. The book goes back to the very first search engines and traces the rise and fall of some sites you will have heard of and some you may well not have.

It also takes a look at the future of search, much of which is still relevant despite the date of the book, and puts search in a wider context, referencing events such as the Dot Com bubble.

It's well written and well read throughout. The author has clearly been paying close attention to the evolution of search since early on and has spoken to many of the key people involved at various times during the period covered by the book.

Very much recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful