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Search Inside the Book ? Good or Bad for Book Sales?

Evaluates the "Search Inside the Book" technology and how it can affect book sales

An author on the Yahoo Self Publishing list asked:

>>I am planning on using this feature for my book, The Guru Next Door, A
>>Teacher’s Legacy but wanted to check with ya’ll first. Is there any
>> reason NOT to do this?

I was actually interviewed at the Book Expo America on this issue back in late May 2005. I was standing in the Google Booth having a fun discussion (argument maybe) with some Google reps not knowing that IDG News Service industry reporter Stacy Cowley was madly taking notes right next to me and then wrote it all up for PC World magazine. Here’s a link to the article which is still available online.

Google Woos Book Publishers
http://www.pcworld.com/article/121247/google_woos_book_publishers.html

What you have to realize is that the search inside the book feature gives people the ability to make a better buying decision based on a snippet of a search on a key word that you don’t know.

The effect on your book sales will be determined by what happens when people see inside your book. Will that help you sell books?

Maybe.

It’s a lot like what happens if someone goes to the bookstore and finds your book on the shelf. If someone picks it up and turns the pages, what happens?

That’s about the size of it only now they are browsing online.

The question as far as book sales go is this:

Will a buying decision be favored if the reader sees what’s inside?

If the answer is yes, then theoretically, sales are improved compared to buying decisions based on cover, reviews, and testimonials only.

If the answer is no, then it likely doesn’t help you sell books.

The answer is in some ways dependent on the content and style of writing, organization, presentation, font size, and other characteristics of the content inside of the book.

The answer is also dependent on what the Amazon searcher enters, and how they feel about your book after reading the snippet they receive.

You have control over of the features of the content and presentation of your book. You don’t have control over what the searcher sees.

You also don’t have control over what Amazon or Google let’s the reader see.

You can experience this effect on your own buying purchases if you actively use this feature and make these types of observations when shopping.

What happens when people pick up your book? You need to find out in person first. Then you can estimate what happens online.

You might want to test the book without the search inside the book for a month or two before you add in the feature and then compare what if anything happens.

To me this is a fairly crucial bit of decisionmaking. You may be a person who has placed a lot of effort and money into creating a book that people will find attractive enough to buy. You may have spent a lot on cover design and marketing. You may have used a professional copy editor and book designer when you created your book. If the quality and writing is high in person then the chances are a similar response will occur when someone uses the search inside the book feature.

But if you haven’t done these things, then a person who sees inside the book will be able to see the quality shortcomings up close and personal and these factors will have a serious impact on the buying decision.

So if the reaction of a person who actually gets their hands on your book is not a buy decision, then maybe the search inside the book will not be helpful to you.

Since search Inside the Book and Google Print were introduced, my early observations about the technology have been pretty well born out.

Quality sells. First impressions make a whole lot of difference. The snippet can make you or break you.

You’ll need to evaluate whether the feature helps you based on how people in your target audience make decisions when looking at books like yours.

Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 11:45 am In
book marketing, book publishing, book sales, making decisions, sales, search tactics, self publishing, selling