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A New Search Snafu

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We’ve read the PMA Newsletter articles on Amazon’s new Search Inside the Book program with interest. In general, we have been quite satisfied with our Amazon connections. They pay promptly (now, there’s a concept!), your inventory and sales are always available online to review, and the outlet has added moderate sales for each of our books.

However, the Search Inside the Book program has one snag in terms of its potential effect on the books of independent publishers that we have not seen mentioned in the various discussions: the technology’s ability to draw out single words from deep within a book that really has no relevance to the search. This often means that books which include the search word only once or twice are listed ahead of a book that actually focuses on the topic the searcher is interested in. Search Inside the Book is therefore not an efficient tool for zeroing in on books about a particular subject.

Here’s an example: North Country Publishing has published the third edition of a classic firsthand account of life and lumbering in the white pine woods of the north, Lumberjack: Inside an Era. In the past, when the search word lumberjack was entered, our title came up somewhere near the top of the list, and always on the first page. Now, a number of books on widely varying topics that use the word lumberjack once or twice–but that may be better sellers–come up first, and our book is relegated to a much later page, when searchers have become tired of looking!

I can’t imagine that a searcher who enters the word lumberjack will be satisfied with a book of essconvbecause it includes the sentence “I’m not a favorite of either lumberjacks or environmentalists.”

Lynn McGlothlin is the co-owner, business manager, and publicist of North Country Publishing, based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She is also co-editor of the 50th anniversary edition of Lumberjack: Inside an Era in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Visit www.northcountrypublishing.com to learn more.

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