Web Features

Custom Preview options

I’d like to see an option to customize at least some of the two-page spreads that get previewed. The first 15 pages nliekly won’t be the most dramatic or highlight the book the best. An option to select five or six 2-page spreads would allow authors to highlight unique aspects, better photography, or custom layouts. Sites like Amazon and B&N do this with their previews. They choose critical pages like table of context or indicies, then individiaul pages from some signiificant part. I realize doing the first 15 pages or so was easy for a programmer—but the site isn’t here to make a programmer’s life easy—it’s here to sell books.

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Posted by
royalef
Sep 23, 2008 10:43pm PDT
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royalef
 

We’re constantly working on making the book preview better, and allowing more control of what book content is available in the preview is at the top of the list.

Rather than hand-picking specific pages or spreads, how would you feel about the ability to choose what page of your book a sequential 15-page preview started on? That’s another idea that’s been floated around the forums a bit.

Posted by
JackLyon
Sep 24, 2008 2:28pm PDT
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JackLyon
 

Good idea Jack. Being able to choose another set of pages would be a good first step. I would hope that I could find 15 continuous pages I was proud to have as my preview.

Posted by
innovator61
Sep 24, 2008 8:39pm PDT
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innovator61
 

Again, while using a different set of 15 pages makes some programmer’s life easy… is it what business demands?  Would I settle for that? Well frankly, my only choices are either I live with what you guys do , I work around your limitaton and build my own previews hosted elsewhere, or I take my book elsewhere.  Current customers are already taking all three of those actions.

Despite this being the almighty Internet and all… real world still matters. I honestly don’t see many people wandering through these pages and through a 15-page preview plunking down $50-$100 on an unknown author’s book, when most of the pages are hidden.  If a bookstore only let you browse 15 pages then stopped you.. many books would not get purchased.  The 15 page preview works for a story or textbook. But a photographic book? You’ve got to have a lot of wow in those 15 pages to convince a stranger to plunk down that much coin on a total gamble.  I honestly don’t see the bookstore as being more than a mechanism for authors to sell their books to their pre-existing and otherwise established clients.

Should the preview be more proportional to the size and cost of the book? That’s an interesting place to go to.  I am paying you more, shouldn’t I get more?   Should a 180 page book get the same 15 pages that a 20 page does?  Again, if I’m writing a story, not an issue, I probably don’t want more than 15 pages online. Same with a cookbook… a limit is good, but is 15 pages enough to sell a $60, $80, $100 book?   I’d say absolutley not.

I wouldn’t buy my own book based upon my 15 page preview.

Another option to consider is thumbnailing the book.  I see this on the advanced previews. Showing a thumbnail page, a contact sheet if you will, of the book might be enough to provide an overview of what the content is like. How many photographs, layout, other major images.

Again, I f I could choose my pages I can make marketing choices. I can do my table of contents, I can do index pages to show what I reference (critical for textual/info/textbooks).  I can choose sepcific recipe pages that wow and show range. If I only get 15 pages, then I’m probably only going to grab a specific narrow rrange of content. If given six two page spreads I’d have trouble limiting them down to just six-which is good.  I’ve got a number of pages that have come out as very striking.

My recommendation of six two page spreads was a caveat to the programmer. I see six drop downs or spinners, prefilled with 2,4,6,8,10,12,14. Each field is limited to the correct number of pages in the book. A drop down can be filled with only even numbers to forced correct left-right spreads.The author can select any two pages in any order to present to the customer. That makes it easier for programmers. Of course that requires that a batch can be sent to the previewing software to stitich together a set of images in a sequence, regardless of their original order.

For larger ($$) books, you can add proportionally more drop downs to allow a larger, more sufficent preview

Again, I’m looking at it from being a real stranger on the site and shopping through books. Not a customer sent by the author who has been sold on buying the book in the real world already. None of these books will be sittingin my local Barnes & Nobles so I can flip through them, so that I can convince myself i want the book.

Of course, the fact that Blurb has setup the bookstore to be a members-only self-publishing store kinda throws the whole thing out of whack. Making much of this moot.

Posted by
royalef
Sep 25, 2008 6:13am PDT
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royalef
 

I seem to have the opposite problem with preview. My books are short (40-80), all photos and a bit of text, so a 15-page preview can be almost one- third of the book – too much, I think.  I want to tease the prospective reader, not give it all away. Besides, the preview function is pretty awkward; it might even cause people to leave the site. I’ve decided to allow preview when a book is first printed, then remove it after a month or so. The only sales potential I see, would be from outside links, so I’m spreading my store URL.  

Posted by
bomoore
Apr 22, 2009 8:37am PDT
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bomoore