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Niche quest

July 30, 2009

Our respect for search engines was sparked by Ask Jeeves and Yahoo. It turned to reverence with Google, and now, there’s Microsoft’s Bing. However, these tools offer general results. For a focused probe, you require a niche tool. We list out the search engines that will help streamline your efforts.

For PDFs
Research documents and e-books are often saved as PDFs, but looking for these titles on a generic search engine will leave you with thousands of results, most of them irrelevant. These PDF-specific searches are focused in approach and even let you download the PDFs.;;

If you want to stay within the Google universe, stick to Project Gutenberg. But there are thousands of other online e-books available legally—for free. If you’re using an e-book reader, check the formats that are offered. Or look for appropriate conversion tools online.;;

E-books are all very well, but what if you’re looking for rare or out-of-print books? There are search engines that have databases of millions of used and new books. So a search for, say, The Four Graces, will only throw up books and not links to Greek mythology.;;

Talk of niche! There are search engines for ‘documents’, including e-books and PDFs. But these docs also include research reports, white papers, fact sheets and templates, and so need a specific search engine. There’s even one for presentations and slide shows.;;

Ideally, anyone looking for music does so from a peer-topeer network like Limewire or Frostwire. However, many people mistrust P2P sites, often with good reason. Where do they go? To niche music sites, of course. Of the dozens available, we’ve chosen three at random. For more information, use a regular browser to look for ‘music search engines’. The advantage of finding music through dedicated search engines is that you get an immediate option to listen, download or buy tunes.;;

There are search engines that allow you to hunt for movies and videos. One of the most exciting projects is the Movie Genome Project, or, which seeks to match movies with your mood. It’s still in beta and you need to sign up for an invitation.;;

Getting Meta
The Internet is way too large for a single search engine to index. This is the reason we need meta-search—probe engines that send the request to multiple browsers simultaneously, providing you with a far more comprehensive result—without having to wade through multiple quests. Meta-search engines do not own databases themselves. Instead, they send the terms of the search to the databases of the search engine companies.;;

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