Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Google & Amazon boosting book sales

Reuters reports: [edited]

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.

Book search results from Google provide short page snippets and links to buy the books from online retailers or directly from publishers.

Some of the same publishers participating in the program have also united to file a lawsuit against Google alleging copyright violation over a separate plan by the Web search leader to digitize the world's libraries.

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.

Others, including Penguin, have been less encouraged by Google, and have found greater success from other partnerships.

"Our experience has been that the revenue generated from Google has been pretty modest, whereas the Amazon program has generated more book sales," Penguin Chief Executive John Makinson told Reuters at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week.'s search tool also allows users to scan the contents of books and browse sample pages. For Penguin's books included in the U.S. "Search Inside" program, sales have increased by 7 percent.

Historical warfare publisher Osprey is reaping the benefits of using both Google and Amazon to boost sales.

"When we looked at the first six months of stats, we saw that 30 percent of Google Book Search clicks went directly to our site, while roughly 40 percent went to Amazon," said William Shepherd, Osprey's managing director.

"Our sales through the Web are steadily increasing in proportion to our total sales, and we're confident that Google Book Search will accelerate this growth."

Walter de Gruyter/Mouton-De Gruyter, a German publisher, said its encyclopaedia of fairy tales has been viewed 471 times since appearing in the program, with 44 percent of them clicking on the "buy this book" Google link.

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