Are Amazon Revealing too Much?

I’m referring specifically to Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature. “A great idea”, many may say, both from an author’s and a reader’s point of view. For novelists it gives them the opportunity to display the quality of their work. Hopefully they will also be able to hook the reader so that he or she will want to read more and will therefore purchase the book.

From the reader’s point of view this feature is also advantageous. Often readers can tell in the first few pages whether they will enjoy a book. So, this facility gives readers the chance to sample the product before making a purchasing decision.

A situation where everyone wins, you may think. But what if you are a non-fiction author?

Amazon Look Inside FeatureThe Disadvantage for Non-Fiction Authors

This feature can cause problems for non-fiction authors. I will cite my first book “Kids’ Clubs and Organisations” as a specific example to illustrate my point. I think that the ‘Look Inside’ feature was detrimental to my first book and I remember feeling displeased when Amazon automatically added it. Although I had a good look around the author area I couldn’t find a way to opt out of this, but I am a self-confessed technophobe so it may just be that I couldn’t find the instructions. If anyone knows how to remove the ‘Look Inside’ feature I would be eternally grateful for your guidance.

The reason why I feel that ‘Look Inside’ has been detrimental to my first book is because one of the book’s selling points is that it introduces parents to kids’ clubs that they may not have realised existed. The contents page describes exactly what type of clubs they are, so some people, having been given the idea for free, could decide to do their own research. Of course, there will be many details that they won’t find on the Internet as I gained a lot of input from the organisations involved with the book. However, this is something that people won’t realise when they view the contents page. I think this disadvantage may have influenced the fact that I sold far more books outside of Amazon than I sold through the site.

I am not saying that this is the only factor that influenced my Amazon sales. Another factor may be because the title is quite formal and may make the book appear more like a library reference book rather than a book that parents and children can read together. I have addressed this factor with my new book by making the title more parent and child friendly. I also hope to include lots of lovely colour images. There is no doubt that self-publishing teaches you a lot and I have taken on board all the lessons that I learnt during the publication and promotion of my first book.

How my Second Book will address the ‘Look Inside’ Issue

With my second book I am avoiding the above situation by making my chapter headings more cryptic, then putting a sub-heading inside the book, which expands on the main chapter heading. The cryptic headings are also intended to add to the fun factor so that the book will appeal to parents and their children.

I have noticed that some authors put the contents page at the back of their Kindle books and I wonder if they do this so that readers don’t see the contents until they buy the book. From a reader’s perspective, however, I prefer to see the contents page at the start of the book, and this is the reason why I have decided not to follow this path.

N.B. My second book is nearing completion and I will be sharing more information about the book on this blog and on the books page of my website in the coming weeks.

If you have a view regarding the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature, I would love to receive your feedback in the comments box below.

8 thoughts on “Are Amazon Revealing too Much?

  1. The ‘Look Inside’ feature has certainly proved to be controversial. I appreciate that for a non-Fiction book like yours it could conceivably be to the detriment of sales. It sounds like you will be well prepared for your second book.

  2. Thanks for your feedback Guy. Yes, I think it is detrimental but I don’t know whether there is a way of opting out of it. Hopefully the steps I have taken with the second book should avoid any pitfalls. When I come to publish my novel it will hopefully work to my advantage.

  3. The kindle version of my book has a lot of the “front matter” at the back, so that when people download the 10% sample, they get to read more of the opening of the book, rather than losing it to front matter. It was advice I got from David Gaughrun. However I write fiction, so I don’t have a table of contents as such (I do in the Kindle version to allow navigation between chapters).

    I can see why the look inside function could be less advantageous to non-fiction writers. As for how to opt out, I’m not sure. I know I had to opt in for the paperbacks I did via CreateSpace, but I don’t remember ever being given the option for the ebooks.

    • Thanks Clare. I don’t remember seeing an option to opt in for either the eBook or on CreateSpace, but it’s something I’ll look out for with the next book. 🙂

  4. I agree with Clare – I remember having to opt in and as she and I use CreateSpace no doubt it was there. Your best bet is to just email KDP and ask them; it saves searching through forums and such like. Get it form the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    I find the ‘look inside’ feature very helpful when deciding which indie books to buy, simply because I like to check out the spelling / grammar / punctuation. If there are errors on the first pages you can be sure they run throughout the book and it really puts me off. X

  5. Thanks Alice, I find the option really useful for fiction books too, but it’s definitely a disadvantage for non-fiction authors. I’ll look out for an opt in when I publish my next book, but failing that, I’ll contact KDP. x

  6. I can see why it’s a problem for non-fiction, but I would imagine most fiction writers like myself want/need it to be there. I would be surprised if Amazon didn’t have a way of allowing non-fiction authors to opt out, as they must have foreseen this problem

  7. Thanks for your feedback Susan. I never noticed an opt out when I published the first book, but I was new to Amazon then so perhaps I missed it. I’ll be taking another look when I publish my next book.

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