Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2004 Issue

Google’s Froogle: Is It There Yet?

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Froogle works best in finding relatively obscure items that you wouldn't know where to look for on the internet. Do you need a pith hat? You know, those rounded hats people wear on safaris, or at least, in safari movies. Where would you look for one of those? Answer: Froogle. It finds 23 primary listings, 20 of which are right on target. That’s enough to give you a choice of styles without overwhelming you. Froogle then provides a group of secondary listings, ones it is not quite sure whether they are on target. Many aren't, but you will also find a few more pith hats to buy in this group.

But, books aren't like pith hats. There are millions and millions of them out there, and you need to be able to target your searches or they won’t be of much use. This is where the book sites, specifically designed to search millions of titles to find the ones you want, have the advantage. Froogle simply isn't targeted very well for such a huge category as books.

So we conclude that Froogle is not there yet. It has not yet arrived. But, will Froogle one day evolve into a better book search site? Who knows? Google is a very quiet, almost secretive company. They carry a big stick, but speak very softly. Google will need to design a subsection of their Froogle search that's built specifically for books in order to equal the performance of the other sites. But, if they do, watch out. They have an enormous amount of web traffic, very skilled developers, and with a public stock offering expected shortly, will soon have lots of cash to spare. If they decide they want to be a leader in the book business, and that's a very big "if", it will be hard to stop them.

Any bookseller with a listing website who would like to see those listings show up in Froogle should visit this page to learn more: www.google.com/froogle/about.html. While Froogle may not be the best book searcher, the listings on your site currently may be visible only to those who go directly to your site, and that is probably only a tiny fraction of the book-buying public. Froogle may well be the best step you can take at this time toward increasing visibility. You will also find a downloadable set of instructions on how to feed your listings to Froogle to make sure they are captured in their searches. Go to www.google.com/froogle/merchants/feed_instructions_new.html to download the file. Alternatively, you can fill out the form on the following page and Froogle will send you instructions on how to proceed: http://service.google.com/froogle/merchant_email. You certainly can't hurt your sales by appearing on Froogle. And, if Froogle grows in importance in anything resembling the manner of its parent, Google, who knows? This could be the beginning of a rewarding lifelong relationship.

Rare Book Monthly

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