Partner Success StoriesSpringer Sees Record Backlist Sales with Google Books
Founded in 1842 in Berlin, Germany, Springer today represents 70 scientific and technical publishers in 20 offices worldwide. As one of the leading global STM publishers, Springer produces more than 5,000 new books each year, and features an extensive backlist of more than 40,000 titles.
Taking advantage of the digital world was never a question for Springer, which has long been active in online publishing and marketing. From its interactive online platform for books and journals (SpringerLink), to customized e-mail alerts and newsletters, Springer prides itself as an early adopter of new technologies and marketing methods. The publisher was therefore interested in the new readership it believed it could reach through Google Books, which allows users to search, discover, and purchase books from local booksellers, online retailers, or the publisher itself.
"At first we were afraid about putting excerpts of our books on Book Search. We thought people might read and then leave," says Paul Manning, Vice President, Book Sales. "But we knew that participating in Book Search didn’t mean that people could read the whole book or that they could take it away for free. What we saw was the potential to create more awareness for our books. We hoped people would see the value within our texts and purchase them."
Springer was one of the first publishers to join Google Books, signing on in July 2004. "The fact that Google employed people to work on Book Search who were close to the publishing industry went a long way with us because we were speaking with people that spoke our language and understood our business," says Manning.
As of February 2007, Springer has roughly 26,000 books live in the program. Participation in Google Books is available free to all publishers regardless of size. "When we started we didn’t know what to expect. But once we began to analyze the data, we were impressed to see that people were looking at our content across the entire range of subjects, regardless of the date of publication," explains Manning.
Springer’s books have been viewed as much as a million times in a one-month period, with book views occurring proportionately to clicks on the "buy this book" link. Its engineering and computer science titles are particularly high performing, representing 14 and 15%, respectively, of the clicks on the "buy this book" link.
The service has been particularly helpful in contributing to Springer’s strategy for its backlist.
"People were looking at books that were twenty years old at the same rate as those that were only one year old," continues Manning. Springer books published before 1996 account for 20% of all the company’s "buy this book" clicks on Google Books. Some of these older titles are in fact out of print, but their discoverability and popularity in Google Books has led Springer to consider reprinting them. "This had a positive effect in strategy in terms of bringing some of these titles back in print," says Manning. "It also helped our conversations with vendors, helping them to capitalize on the trends we were seeing."
"Our book sales in the U.S. were at a record high last year and we believe part of that was due to greater online visibility in programs like Google Books," says Manning. "When you look at the increased sales of our backlist, for example, one of the variables that has changed has been our participation in Google Books."
In addition, 26% of users who click on "buy this book" select the link to Springer’s own website, driving additional traffic to the publisher’s own online platform. The remaining links drive users to alternative online retailers.
"Google Books is one of the easiest and best online marketing vehicles," concludes Manning, who also sees it as a great tool for authors: "We think that anything that can give authors greater visibility and distribution is good for both authors and publishers."
About Google Books
Google Books enables publishers to promote their books on Google. Google scans the full text of participating publishers' titles so that Google users can see books that match the topics they are searching on. When users click on a book search result, they're taken to a Google-hosted web page displaying a scanned image of the relevant page from the book. Each page also contains multiple "Buy this Book" links, which enable users to purchase the book from online retailers. Users may also see contextually targeted Google AdWords ads on these pages. Publishers will receive a share of the revenue generated from ads appearing on their content.