Search inside the book on Amazon

Now that I'm in the self-publishing world with my little personal book of poetry, I thought I'd share my experiences with Amazon.com's "Search Inside This Book" feature.

Here's the gist of the feature from a reader's perspective, which is that it allows readers to search for keywords and — even more importantly, I think — view sample pages before deciding to purchase.

From an author or publisher's perspective, that's golden. You get to entice potential readers with a few tempting pages from your tome, and those buyers will feel more confident about springing for a book online when they've had a chance to virtually thumb through the pages.

Where the Wild Things Are -- Maurice SendakIf you want to try out the feature for yourself, go to any participating book on Amazon.com and click on any cover picture that reads "Click to LOOK INSIDE!"

That appealing little icon will appear in small search results, as well, so readers will be able to see at a glance that your title is searchable. If they want to make sure your book deals with a particular topic, they can do a keyword search, as easy as searching a PDF.

Here's a sample participating title for you to play around with: Where the Wild Things Are.

If you click on the cover image, you can choose to look more closely at the front or back cover, flap, copyright page, or the first few pages. If you type in a keyword — "wild," say — you will see a paginated list of every instance of that word in the book, in summary form with the search term in bold.

As an author, you might be concerned about security and who's going to buy the cow if you give away the milk for free and all that. By logging into an unused Amazon account of mine, I discovered that if you haven't bought something on Amazon they won't let you see beyond a certain amount of pages. Even if you are a trusted buyer, if you do a lot of a keyword searches, they'll let you see only a certain amount of pages per day. So the whole text of the book is scanned in and searchable (and an easily transferred candidate for Kindle), but readers do not have access to read or download the full book without paying for it.

So, now that I've convinced you of the appeal of the program for published authors, I'll give you some hard infomation on how to sign up.

You send in a PDF of either your entire book or separate PDFs of your front cover, back cover, spine, and interior. You must send in at least the front cover and interior, and you can leave out any sections of the interior that you wish, for instance if you're still concerned about security. However, that will mean that those portions of your book will not be keyword-searchable, which might affect reader interest in your book.

Amazon was very accommodating and speedy in uploading and formatting the files. It was functioning within two days in my case. They will also deal with low-resolution files, though they prefer high DPI, and they can help crop or splice files as necessary.

The sign-up is connected to your Seller Central account, so if you have a Seller Central account already, be sure to use your Seller Central email address to sign up for Search Inside This Book. If you don't have a Seller Central account, this process will open one for you. Don't worry too much about that; I mention it only because it was a little confusing and opaque to me. The interface for signing up is a series of email exchanges rather than a straightforward web format. That said, the time involved to get everything set up was not painful.

So go offer your books for searching! It takes a few extra steps, but it's well worth it.


Lauren Wayne » Blog Archive » Seller Central account for Search Inside This Book said...

[...] So, there you have it. No real advice from here, but a counsel to <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fhelp%2Fcontact-us%2Fseller-support.html%3Fie%3DUTF8%26browse%255Fnode%255Fid%3D1161232&tag=laurenwayne-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957″ target=”_blank”>seek out Amazon’s take</a><img src=”https://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=laurenwayne-20&l=ur2&o=1″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”" style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /> on the situation. Maybe there’s a secret link to access your Seller Central information from the publisher page, or maybe it’s something they’ll fix in the future. « Search inside the book on Amazon [...]

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