A New Search Engine (And Why You Should Care)
All of this brings us full circle back to where we started, with the search engines. Here is why the search engines are so important: in the internet age, they are a direct connection between you and your customers. The book sites will connect your books to your customers, but they won't connect you. If you believe this connection is still important, and you believe it is important for you to be able to establish your own image for the world to see, then you need to understand the search engines, because without them, you are invisible to most of the world.
Obviously, the first thing you need to be visible is a website. And, you need your own, not a derivative site, such as a page on the Abebooks or other website. You need your own web address. Then you need two more things: content, and some books to sell. Content simply means information. Tell them about yourself, your specialty, about books. Tell them something! People like sites that inform them, and will be far more impressed with a bookseller who appears knowledgeable than with one who has nothing to share. Search engines feel the same. They will reward you with better placement if they find you informative. But, this is an issue for another day. Right now we want to focus on listings.
In the past, no one could find your listings (on your own website) unless they first came to your site. They had to find you first, and then search your site for specific titles. It couldn't happen the other way around. People couldn't find you as a result of finding your listings in a web search. So, it really didn't matter whether your "listings" were just a link to the books you were selling on Abe or somewhere else. People weren't going to find you through your book listings anyway.
No more. In the past few years, we have seen the search business concentrated in a few hands, and by far the largest pair of hands belongs to Google. One of the things Google has done is expand the reach of their searches. They don't just find your home page, or the pages that link to it with just a click or two anymore. Now they dig deeply into your site. You can list thousands of individual titles, and as long as the structure of your site allows Google to reach them, they can be available for searches.
What does this mean? What it means is that people can now find your books (again, if your site structure is correct) through an internet search. Just as they can find the book you listed on Abe or Alibris or Amazon by doing a search of those sites, they can find the books you have listed on your own site with an internet search. There is no middleman to go through. No one structures your listing, decides what it looks like, prevents you from providing information about yourself, or stops the customer from contacting you directly. You are there for the whole world to see and you get to choose exactly how you look. And for this, you don't even pay a commission! You get to control your own destiny, so to speak.