by Sue Freeman, Footprint Press, Inc.
As an author and publisher of guidebooks who sells new and used books on Amazon, I have come to understand some caveats of using Amazon that are probably unknown to many people. Amazon uses an algorithm that brings up the most popular books when you enter a search term. Even if your search term is an exact match for a specific book’s title, you may not find that book displayed. This works OK with most books – popular titles get top billing and continue selling well.
But, it doesn’t work with guidebooks that get revised regularly. For instance, my popular title “Take A – Family Walks in the Rochester NY Area” is now in its third edition. The first edition is definitely obsolete and by now most have dropped from circulation. But, the second edition still floats around through the wholesaler and distributor networks, and can easily be found as a used book. I, as the publisher, am feeding only the new edition into the wholesaler and distributor networks. But someone who searches for “Take A Hike – Rochester” in Amazon will be offered the second edition and not the new, more up-to-date third edition. That’s because the second edition has a good sales history. Amazon doesn’t care that it’s obsolete. As long as you buy a” Take A Hike – Rochester” guidebook, Amazon doesn’t care which edition you end up with. It’s the same for any books which get updated with new editions. If you want to be sure to get the latest edition of any guidebook, I recommend you use the publisher’s web site rather than Amazon. Even if you go back and buy from amazon, use the publisher’s web site to make sure you’re purchasing the latest edition.
Another example of the “popularity algorithm” problem that Amazon causes is that even if you search on an exact title, you may not reach that book. An example here is a book I helped a friend publish. It’s called “Alter – A Simple Path to Emotional Wellness.” Amazon carries it, but even searching on the exact title, you won’t find it. You have to search by its ISBN # (0965697487 ) to find it.
The moral is:
1. Don’t assume a book doesn’t exist if an Amazon search doesn’t find it.
2. Don’t assume an Amazon search will pull up the latest edition of a guidebook.