Amid speculation that a Web browser was the next product to be launched by the search engine giant, Google surprised some by announcing plans to dramatically expand their book search feature called "Google Print" as their next updated offering to the searching public. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page will host a press conference tomorrow to demonstrate the new Google Print technology.

Google Print will be integrated into the Google search interface and will allow users to view excerpts from books next to the standard Google search results. Users that are interested in purchasing the book will be offered a selection of links to buy from online retailers. Google will not charge publishers for listing their books and will run contextual ads along side them to help pay for the service.

Stefan Keuchel , a spokesman for Google explained the concept to a report from Reuters by explaining “It’s an advantage for publishers because it offers them the possibility to promote books online. And for users it gives them the advantage of accessing information about authors and books and even to read a little from the books.”

Does the service aim to challenge popular book shopping site Perhaps, but with Amazon already recognized as the leader in online retailing, it's more likely that Google is simply looking to expand their product offerings. At this point, Google is no more likely to overtake Amazon with Google Print than Amazon is to overtake Google with their recent launch of A9. In much the way that Google’s A9 service plays off of Google (A9’s results are from the Google index), Google Print will be playing off of Amazon. (Amazon will be one of the retailers that Google searches can purchase books from.)

Having already signed deals with well known publishers like Random House, Penguin and Scholastic, Google made it clear that they intend to expand their catalog by working with even more publishers. That said, their goal isn't simply to work with the big boys. Much as the Google search engine gave small businesses a chance to compete with Fortune 500 companies, Google Print will aim to do the same. "We intend to make this available to publishers of all sizes, including those with under 500 books" explained Susan Wojcicki, Google's director of product management in an interview with Reuters.

Publishers interested in having their works included in the Google Print index can fill out an application on Google’s Web site. The main requirements are that the books are written in English, have an ISBN, and contain no illegal content. Accepted publishers will then be invited to send a copy of their books to Google, which will scan them in and include them in the index. Contextual ads that appear next to the book sections will work much the way that Google’s AdSense program does, with the book publishers earning a revenue share for any advertisements that users click.

For more information on the program, visit the Google Print FAQ.
October 6, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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