When you walk into a bookstore, you have the ability to pick up a book, open the cover, and read through as many pages as you wish so you can make a purchasing decision. Sure, you read the back cover first, and maybe that was enough, but at least you have the option. When marketing your book for its potential readers, you want to give them the ability to preview the book as well, so they can decide to purchase a copy for themselves.
There are three main methods for providing a book preview, and while all of these seem to compete, it is important to be aware that each one provides a different avenue to expose your audience to your book. In sheer marketing terms, using all of these options would be a beneficial use of your time. Finally, be aware that every one of these options are completely free.
Book Preview with BookBuzzr
BookBuzzr.com offers authors a Flash based book preview that not only has the feeling of physically turning pages, but it allows extraneous, author added details about the book to be included with the embedded widget. Furthermore, there is an extensive list of sharing options for social networking, blogging websites, and email, with a detailed list of instructions for each site.
BookBuzzr even allows you to use the micro-blogging website Twitter to let your followers know whenever your book was viewed. Secondary to that, the BookBuzzr account on Twitter promotes authors and books that are found on BookBuzzr as just an additional benefit for their authors. Going even farther, the fReado (parent of BookBuzzr) website offers listing and rankings for books that have been popular on the website, called their Movers and Shakers.
You can setup your account directly on BookBuzzr.com. You decide how many pages and which pages will be visible to your users, so you can share as much or as little as you wish. This is clearly the most advanced book preview widget available for free today.
Book Preview with Google Books
Everybody knows Google, and if you are searching for certain topics, Google Book Search will provide three books relevant to the search at the bottom of the page. If your book isn’t added to Google Book Search, its odds of appearing in this search are greatly reduced. Of course, Google offers an additional Book Preview widget. There are a few steps you should go through, starting with adding your book to Google Books and configuring all your settings, including custom purchase links, images, and page preview (with optional download). Once the book is setup, you will want to create the preview widget through their book preview wizard.
The Google widget can be configured as a button or a full embedded view. It is HTML based so it doesn’t require Flash to be installed, though the browsing is completely linear and not natural to how a buyer would browse a book in a store. There is an additional benefit of Table of Contents scanning, which makes the table of contents clickable within the preview, taking you directly to the appropriate page within the preview. Like BookBuzzr, this can be used to embed your book preview into your author or book’s website.
Book Preview with Amazon Look Inside
Amazon offers its Look Inside feature to any author or publisher who has their book listed on Amazon.com. Unlike the previous two options however, it is only available on Amazon.com. There is no embeddable widget. The preview is built into the page itself, triggered by clicking on the book’s cover image. Amazon offers a full FAQ for using and setting up Look Inside for your book. While this service won’t provide any additional marketing for your book, it will provide browsing of a small portion of your book for organic Amazon.com visitors to your book’s Amazon page. Be advised that every Amazon domain is different, and thus setting up Look Inside on Amazon.com will not carry over to Amazon.co.uk, and so forth.