Google Introduces Book Searches

Google has launched an experimental program that indexes excerpts of popular books, blending the content from these works into regular Google search results.

Google Print differs from Amazon’s recently introduced Search Inside the Book program, which makes the full text of books available online to readers. By contrast, Google is indexing only a small excerpt from each book, typically taken from the inside cover, jacket reviews, author biographies or the book’s introduction.

If you want to purchase the book, Google provides links to the book’s description page at major online retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million. These book sellers pay nothing for the links, and Google says it is not benefiting if you make a purchase from one of these retailers.

Google itself is hosting the excerpts, and says it is ranking content using the same technology used to evaluate websites. If that’s the case, don’t expect to see many Google Print results for most queries, as the excerpts themselves are often quite short, and it’s highly unlikely that many people will be linking to an excerpt when they can link directly to comprehensive information about the book itself at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Indeed, test searches for books included in the program failed to return Google Print results in the top 100. For example:

Perhaps ironically, the top web search result for both the Moyers and Munro book was a link to the Amazon information page (#4 for Bullfinch’s Mythology).

Even a relatively obscure title like A Cup of Tea Signature Vertical Note Cards by Helen Gustafson, with only 8 total web results had the Google Print result in the #5 position.

Google Print results are clearly labeled with a [BOOK – BETA” tag, similar to the tags Google uses to identify non-HTML results, such as PDF, XLS, and so on.

Publishers participating in the program have granted permission to Google to include book content. There’s a range of publishers taking part, including major houses like Dell, Knopf and Random House, as well as speciality publishers like Fodor’s Travel Publications.

Google says that it is interested in working with rights holders who own or control a “substantial” amount of content for inclusion in the Google Print program. Established publishers, authors, or agents can use this contact form to be considered for inclusion in the program.

Google is displaying contextually-targeted AdWords from its AdSense program on book excerpt pages. During the initial phase of this beta test, advertisers will not be charged for clicks they receive on these pages, and neither Google nor the publishers participating in the program profit from these ads.

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