The value of Google Play as a book source

I believe that the golden key that will unlock the potential of the ever-changing book publishing industry lies with Google. I’ve had this hunch since early 2011 when I first read an article on O’Reilly Radar where Matthew Gray, the lead software engineer of Google Books Search Quality, was interviewed about how to make an ebook more discoverable on Google Books. It is worth the time to read:

I loved his quote so much — about the importance of excellent writing and well designed book covers — that I included it in my powerpoint presentation for my publishing business.

When I joined the Google Books Partner Program, I saw the advantages because Google Books serves as a bridge between the virtual world and the real world. All the either/or debates about Internet book publishing and sales versus “brick-and-mortar” sales in local bookshops go flying out the window when we realize that we can have both, and that the virtual and physical worlds of the publishing industry can support each other:

1. The Google Books Partner Program links to local bookshops. Books that have been uploaded to their website have links in the lefthand sidebar to where the book is also available online and in local bookstores. If an indie bookshop becomes a member of the program too, they can display the Google Books logo on their website and promote their affiliation in-store, and sales made either in person or online through their connection with Google benefits them as well as the author/publisher.

What better way to shop online and shop local at the same time!

2. Google is already the master of the universe when it comes to nearly perfect search algorithms.

3. As an article in Futurebook states, Google is not concerned with being a retailer/vendor/marketer, but rather is concerned with making books discoverable.

Matthew Gray also mentioned in his interview with O’Reilly that the quality of a book’s content and well designed book covers help sell more books. He is right! Thus, making well-written, flawlessly edited, well designed and perfectly formatted books discoverable is the gatekeeping device we are all seeking as the market continues to be flooded with poorly written, shoddy books.

Those of us who care about quality are continually brainstorming a way to separate excellent books (in terms of writing/editing/design quality) from mediocre books, and I think Google is the golden key that will unlock this aspect of the evolving publishing industry. And no, I do not work for Google in any way, shape or form; I can just see the potential in a huge way.

Imagine the possibilities for indie authors and publishers if Google simply made their Books division more prominent right on their homepage next to the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, and then crafted search algorithms to bring the highest quality books–even those written by new, indie, unknown authors–to the forefront. I hope it happens!

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