Since it officially went live in the fall of 2004, Google Book Search has added more than one million titles to its database, signed agreements with over 10,000 publishers and, after overcoming some initial reluctance from international publishers, has moved aggressively overseas. Despite the ongoing legal battle between Google and publishers and authors over the company's library scanning project, most publishers have increased their involvement with Book Search, said Tom Turvey, director of Google Book Search partnerships. The most prominent exception has been Random House, which does not have any titles with Google, preferring to develop its own search capabilities through Insight. Random spokesperson Stuart Applebaum said the publisher “continues to have periodic conversations with Google.”
For most publishers, however, Book Search provides the most effective way for their books to gain exposure on the Internet. The STM publisher Springer Publishing has put 30,000 titles in Book Search, and Paul Manning, v-p of book sales at Springer, said being part of Book Search “has allowed us to put lots of content online in a controlled way.” Hal Hallstein, manager of e-media at the independent publisher Wisdom House, said Book Search has been “a big help in getting more of our books being discovered, and that's our major objective.” Both Springer and Wisdom are also pleased with the amount of page views and clicks on the buy-the-book link. Manning said Springer's titles get one million page views and 35,000 buy-the-book clicks each month. Springer has been working to determine how many of the clicks convert to sales, but Manning said sales through many of Springer's retail partners, particularly overseas, are up. One surprise Manning has discovered by analyzing the clicks is that 20% of the clicks are for books that are over 10 years old.
While Springer is willing to let book sales go through a retail partner, Hallstein likes that Google makes Wisdom's home page the first buy option. The publisher is trying to build its direct-sales business, and the link from Google has been a boost. Hallstein said customer links to Wisdom's site from Google give the publisher more chances to sell other Wisdom books and build relationship with customers.
While Manning said his experience so far with Google has been a good one, he hopes Google will continue to innovate and to talk to its publishing partners. Turvey said that's what Google plans to do. The most pressing issue for publishers, other than selling a physical copy of the book, is how they can sell content online. To meet that need, Google has been developing Google Online Access, which would allow customers to buy or rent a book's content. Turvey said Google hopes to launch that option this year, but work is still being done. Turvey said Online Access “needs to be as inclusive as possible and useful to trade publishers as well as professional publishers.” Turvey said Google is receiving feedback about Online Access from its partners and is incorporating that into the final product.