Thursday, 30 October 2003

Seattle P-I on "search" and page view

New Amazon search feature angers authors: Writers weren’t consulted on searchability of work ( Seattle Post-Intelligencer , Friday, 31 October 2003)

The P-I reports, on the basis of an press release, that “’s new “Search Inside the Book” feature — introduced last week to let visitors search the full text of 33 million pages in 120,000 volumes — has boosted book sales… Amazon said that in the new feature’s first five days, sales of searchable titles on average exceeded those of its other titles by 9 percent.”

But even didn’t make such a claim: all that they claimed was that the new scheme has increased sales through . There’s no evidence yet, nor will there be for some time, as to how it is affecting book sales overall, including through other bookstores and channels.

It could be (and likely is) that some people were attracted to by the search and page-display feature, and bought through, increasing sales of those books, while an even larger number — who would otherwise have bought the book elsewhere — instead came to, read (and perhaps saved) the pages with the information they wanted, and thus didn’t buy the book at all, anwhere.

If the second group was larger than the first, sales of these books would be up, but total sales down. I suspect this will be the case, especially over time as people learn that if they only need an excerpt, not the whole book, they can get it for free on

Th P-I article also quotes me, my publisher, and other authors who write for my publisher.

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 30 October 2003, 22:43 (10:43 PM)
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