Month: June 2006

Google Book Search and the author

Inside Google Book Search has a funny little post today called: A New Chapter For Authors.

From that:

The book sold above expectations when it was first published in 2002. But three years later, after Foote decided to include it in Book Search, she had a wave of new orders, and started getting email from readers she wasn’t able to reach before.

Google is holding itself out as a great tool for authors, and in truth it is. Its search capacity is amzing. I just hope that it remains one of a number of options for authors and not the only option going forward.

Its all about marketing

The more I work in this industry the more one key feature comes to the fore, marketing. People don’t really NEED books. That is a sad reality. There is no reason for 1000 or 20,000 or 2,000,000 people to buy any book.

A book will not help them to breathe and work and walk and talk and sing and swim or to do any of the things that people do from day to day. It will not make them rich (though it might inspire them to become rich). It will not provide them with food or drink. People, in short, need a reason to buy a book.

It is a concept to remind yourself of every single day if you intend to get involved in the publishing industry. if you cannot create a reason for a book to be bought then there will be no sales. Every book cover must suggest itself to the buying public as a potential purchase and indeed must compete with the other “essential” and “non-essential” products that that consumer could buy.

And a cover is not enough. You can have a pretty cover that misses the mark and an ugly cover that connects with a potential buyer. You can have a book that to the elite appears predictable and clunky but raises the pulse of the majority of readers.

For no other reason than its exceptional marketing you should admire Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It has created millions of purchases and a global hit. Even reaching one percent of the sales it has racked up would be an incredible achievement for most books.

By far the majority of discussion on the web seems to be about how to publish books, either how to get your book taken on board by a large publisher or the best way to self-publish. But if one does not consider the importance of marketing and with that marketing, effective distribution, then you may as well burn your money. That goes for your choice of publishing firm too if you do decide to go with a traditional publisher. If they have no defined plans for publicity, your book may well sink amid the large numbers of books published each year in all major markets.

Blogs, Begorrah and Ireland

I have mentioned before that MySpace is a huge publisher, well in Ireland (And its strange that I don’t mention it more given that I live here) Bebo.com is the king of the jungle. Everyone is on Bebo it seems sometimes.

But there is more to online publishing in Ireland than Bebo or even MySpace which does have a large share of the market. Gatesby Publishing, the company behind New York Dog have launched a blog which is to all intents and purposes a rip off of Gawker and they have called it Blogorrah. You can check out a sample post here and a rather sceptical view of them here at Blurred Keys a good Irish media blog.

Our three leading newspapers are online. The Irish Times with Ireland.com has a paid subscription service that really, to my mind, is not worth it. The Irish Examiner has the least annoying site and the Irish Independent has a free subscription model that is just frustrating. Most shockingly only Ireland.com offers and RSS feed.

There are dozens and dozens of blogs of course. but one key feature that the Irish Blogosphere has is an online simple syndicator called irishblogs which posts slugs of registered blogs as soon as the feed spits them into their database. I rather like this site and the local nature of it as it is a manageable level. I can see too how over time a site like this might well develop. There are rudimentary features for “bumping” stories but they rarely seem to make a difference.

As for Book Publishers the large ones have decent sites but nothing to shout about and our book retailers are much the same. Indeed I much prefer to shop online at play.com or amazon.co.uk than bother with the awful easons.ie.

What strikes me the most about Ireland and online publishing here is how much of the sector is dominated by individuals. The vibrancy of personal posting and blog building si destined to be affected by the emergence of sites like Blogorrah over time of course, but for now it is great to see an active blogosphere here.

Google Book Search scores a victory

Google announced on it official blog yesterday that:

WBG, a German publisher, today decided to drop its petition for a preliminary injunction against the Google Books Library Project. WBG (whose legal action was supported by the German Publishers Association as an industry model) made the decision after being told by the Copyright Chamber of the Regional Court of Hamburg that its petition was unlikely to succeed.

The news is good for ordinary consumers and not as important for Google as it may seem. For the consumer it means that Google Book Search will become more effective over time as its right to display snippets seems to be now legally justified. Google Book Search has the edge in terms of search even if others have snazzier readers on hand. This change will not improve its offering to a great extent but perhaps it will free up resources within Google to concentrate on improving the overall product.
Businesses though, if they have any sense, will see this as spur to move ahead with their own projects to create digital databases of their own books, either singly or as part of a collective.