Have you ever found a book online about your favorite subject, but didn’t buy it right then because you weren’t sure what was inside? You may have gotten in the car and driven to the nearest bookstore to check it out before you made your decision … and bought it online later for less.

What about the book you’ve written? Can your audience look inside it online to help them make up their minds about it? How many more people do you think would buy your book if they could look inside and make a decision to buy on the spot?

You can now have your readers browse the inside of your book. Amazon and Google have started scanning the interiors of books so that their search engines would be able to retrieve and organize information from inside printed books as well. A few days ago Microsoft launched a similar program called Live Search Books. (Wheatmark is among Microsoft’s first book publishing partners.) Here are examples of a book published by Wheatmark shown by these three vendors.

Amazon.com – click on the book’s cover to see inside
Google Book Search
Live Search Books (Microsoft)

As you can see, people can look inside and browse the book before they decide to buy it. Don’t worry, the content is secure, you can neither download it nor read all of the pages online.

The ability to look inside your book, however, is only a small part of the overall benefit of the inside search concept. Sure, it helps for readers to peek inside your book once they’ve found it, but what about the part of your audience that has not yet found your book? How will they find it?

Enter the real beauty of inside search. Let me explain.

Take the book mentioned above, Arizona Laws 101, as an example. You are searching for books online for information about, say, DUI laws in the state of Arizona. If all that’s available to the search engine is the title of this book, it will not show up at all in these search results, since you were not searching for the phrase in the title. But if the search engine is able to search within the book, it will see that it has a whole chapter on DUI laws in Arizona. Therefore, the book will show up in your search results.

Try it yourself: Go to books.live.com and search for the phrase “driving under the influence in Arizona.” The book will be prominently placed in the search results, and it will even show you what pages contain the words you searched for.

Is your book full of keywords and phrases that people are searching for online? Would you like to reach readers who search online for topics that your book addresses? You should definitely make your book searchable inside.