Saturday, May 24, 2008

Can Google Replace the Need for Amazon?

While thinking about the ways Amazon.com helps small publishers sell books and compete with the "big guys," I started to wonder about Google. Who else has a search engine that will efficiently allow customers to find books from small presses and other niche markets? Google is the King of search engines, in my opinion, and I realized they have a Book Search option. I decided to give their program a try.

I went to Google Books and signed up, then uploaded Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers to their server via their own Google Book Uploader. Quick and easy to use.

One of the big concerns about Google Books is how easily people may be able to steal your book's contents off the net. This is what Google says:

Keep Your Content Protected

Users get a taste of your book—but only a taste. We scan the full text of your book because we want people to be able to search all its content. But users can only access a limited number of pages to determine whether they've found what they're looking for.

We understand that your books are valuable, so we treat them with special care. All the books you send us will be hosted on Google servers and protected by the same security as Google.com’s search data.

To further protect your book content, printing and image copying functions are disabled on all Google Book Search pages.


It may take a few days for Laura's book to appear through the Google book site, but once it does I'll post the link and update you on anything I learn from using Google. The book is already listed in the Google books catalogue, but there is no cover image or excerpt yet. However, I can already see how many retailers carry the book and at what price, as well as which libraries have a copy. I wonder what more information will be provided once the Medusa's Muse account is activated. Another interesting thing about Google Books is that you can earn revenue from the ads they post along with your book. That's something Amazon doesn't do.

But will Google replace consumer's Amazon habit? How many people know they can find books via Google? I think in time the Google Book Search will become a viable alternative to Amazon.com, but that may take several years.

1 comment:

janemac said...

They might have disabled "printing and image copying functions" but they haven't disabled printscreen. I know because I have two or three times made a printscreen copy of a page from a reference work, because I was desperate (on deadline and couldn't find the book in the library, or the library was closed).

There are ways around Google's protections. But, they are right in that it's not really possible for someone to make a copy of a book's contents that's not obviously a copy (printscreen pages are small and are like photocopies on a Word doc. page).

My dos centimes ... (yes, I know those are different languages)