Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book sales and Google

Remember Google Books, which according to the Chicken Littles in the publishing industry was going to destroy the book trade?

A report from Reuters shows that some of them are coming around:

Publishers are starting to report an uptick in sales from Google Inc.'s online program that lets readers peek inside books, two years after the launch of its controversial plan to digitally scan everything in print.

Google has been enlisting publishers to voluntarily submit their books so that Web searchers can more easily find titles related to their interests, but some fear the project could lead to piracy or exploitation of their copyrighted content.

"Google Book Search has helped us turn searchers into consumers," said Colleen Scollans, the director of online sales for Oxford University Press.

She declined to provide specific figures, but said that sales growth has been "significant". Scollans estimated that 1 million customers have viewed 12,000 Oxford titles using the Google program.


Specialty publisher Springer Science + Business reported sales growth of its backlist catalog using Google Book Search, with 99 percent of the 30,000 titles it has in the program getting viewed, including many published before 1992.

"We suspect that Google really helps us sell more books," said Kim Zwollo, Springer's global director of special licensing, declining to provide specific figures because the company is privately owned.

It isn't just Google books having this effect -- Amazon's similar service, where viewers can read small snippets of books before buying, also helps sales.

This isn't exactly rocket science. Imagine if book shops kept books sealed in plastic, and would-be buyers couldn't browse the book first. Sales would fall through the floor.

No comments: