On April 11, 2013 I tried to email my contact at Google Books to discuss some serious defects in the service (detailed in the email below). If you’re an author considering Google Books and/or selling your book on Google Play, you may want to read through my email below, before you waste too much time or get your hopes up too high.
Of course, I don’t expect Google to change anything for me or in light of the above comments/complaints, but I’d still be curious to hear your response. While I have enormous respect for most of what Google does and think it’s generally an impressively intelligent and innovative company, Google Books has thus far been an unmitigated FAIL that is hardly worthy of the Google brand (as detailed below). You may want to discontinue the service altogether if you can’t fix the many things that are wrong with it — if only to preserve your reputation as a smart and competent company.
INADEQUATE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS
The whole point of uploading a book to the Google Books service is to enable more people to discover an author’s book organically through search, so a key measure of success for the service is the traffic that Google Books has generated for a participating title (as reported by the Google Books traffic report). Well, apparently in six months, all of 37 people have visited my book page (and two of those are undoubtedly me and a relative/friend). Meanwhile 526 pages have been read, suggesting an average read of 14 pages per person, resulting in a total of seven sales in six months. Considering how consistently well my book has done on Amazon (where, since last July, it has ranked between 2,000 and 50,000 out of all Kindle books), the results for Google Books — an average of six web visitors per month — are an undeniable disappointment. It was also a massive waste of my time, considering how long it took to set everything up properly on Google Books, chase down someone who could provide some customer support, and deal with the various issues that crept up along the way.
In the “imprint settings,” the “browsable %” setting with the most limited free preview option claims to show only 20% of a book that is uploaded to Google Books. I chose that option yet I see that the first 22% of the novel are displayed without interruption and only after that are pages removed until the very last page, producing a preview that is actually 23% of the total. So the math obviously doesn’t add up — somewhat surprising for a company that is as numerically oriented as Google.
My book currently has 72 reviews on Amazon and 23 ratings (including 19 reviews) on Goodreads, and other reviews on many other book sites. Yet on Google Books it shows zero reviews, conveying the false impression that the book has received no interest or attention from readers.PROBLEMS WITH BUY LINKS
There is a big red button that says “Get Print Book” even though no print book has ever existed (although I hope to release one in the coming weeks). BROKEN. Moreover, there is no way for me to add a link to a vendor of any print edition, once the paperback does become commercially available. FAIL.
Below that, the following incorrect information is displayed: No eBook available. EPIC FAIL. The Google Books page is promoting precisely that — an eBook. So you are effectively promoting an eBook with a web page that says “No eBook available”…Could you look any more broken and incompetent? No, you could not. Good thing that Google Books is still officially in “Beta.”
Below the epic fail, a bunch of totally defective links appear.
About half a year after I complained about the broken Amazon buy link, it is still as broken as ever and just produces this error (instead of my Amazon book page):
Your search “1623094526” did not match any products.
The Barnes & Noble link takes users to the B&N home page (not my B&N book page).
You then have a link to Books a Million where my product is not even offered for sale.
Below that is a link for Indie Bound (where my book also is not available), which produces this error:
Book not found!
The ONLY link that works is the one to my home page, but many (if not most) book readers will start with Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and I doubt that many of those people would even bother to try anything else after the above results.
Please send me a detailed response at your earliest convenience.
And fix your service already. I brought many of these problems to your attention about half a year ago.
For a multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company that prides itself on massive brainpower that’s focused on making the Internet better and teaching machines to think for themselves, can’t you do better than the above? As we bring this litany of failures to its sorry conclusion, let us return for a moment to Google’s lofty mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google Books was a promising and innovative idea. But the reality of its implementation can be summed up in one word: Fail.
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