How can you analyze competing books on Amazon before buying them?

Posted August 1st @ 6:40 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Before starting to write & self-publish a brand-building book, ask yourself, How can I analyze competing books on Amazon.com before buying them?

This is the 24th in a series of questions, ideas, and tips to help you plan your book and explore your options before starting to write and publish your brand-building book.

Taking the time to locate and analyze the leading books in your field plays an important role in writing and publishing success. Before you can start to write your book, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of competing books.

Amazon.com makes it easy to study your competition without the costs of buying dozens of books and the delays of trying to obtain copies of competing books through the public libraries.

Amazon.com’s Look Inside! feature

As you’ve probably noticed, many of the book covers displayed on Amazon.com contain a Click to Look Inside! graphic.

Click the graphic, and you can view selected pages from the book, giving you an valuable opportunity to research the contents of the leading books in your field in order to better understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Learning about competing books by looking inside

Here are some of the things you can learn by studying the pages revealed by Amazon.com’s Look Inside! feature:

  • Covers. The ability to zoom in and study the front and back covers of competing books offers valuable insights into how the authors and publishers wanted to market and promote their book. By studying the front and back-cover copy, you’ll be better able to understand who the book was written for, the book’s “big idea” and intended benefits, as well as the author’s qualifications and–often–website address.
  • Rights. In most cases, it’s possible to view the book’s copyright page, providing details about when the book appeared and other publishing history.
  • Contents. Most important, the Look Inside! feature permits you to view the book’s table of contents as well as sample pages from the Introduction and, often, additional chapters. In many cases, you can also view the book’s Index to give you a better idea of the topics covered.
  • Testimonials. Often, the biggest advantage of the Look Inside! feature is the ability to view the per-publication quotes and testimonials from other experts in the field. In many cases, this can help you locate others in your field as well as provide further clues about the book’s marketing.

Look Inside! pros and cons

The ability to analyze competing books online is a major advantage that today’s authors enjoy over earlier authors. You can now learn more about more books from home than ever before possible.

Although you can’t access complete books, you’ll be able to learn enough to decide which of the competing books are important enough to justify ordering them for further study.

Note that while you can zoom in to view the text on the front and back covers, you cannot print from the Look Inside! preview. Thus, if you want to study the book’s table of contents in detail, you’ll have to either purchase the book or copy the table of contents by hand.

Research makes the difference

What you do before you start to write your brand-building book is often as important as how you write and market your book.

To make the most of your writing and marketing time, download my (currently free) workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before Writing and Self-publishing a Brand-building Book.

It will help you clarify your goals, analyze your readers, examine competing books, choose a book title, explore your options, and plan your book marketing & post-publication profits.

Asking questions helps you examine your assumptions and opens the door to new alternatives and resources. As you explore the questions, you can review earlier posts in this series and ask questions about researching competing books on Amazon.com using my online form. You can also share your comments, questions,  and concerns, below.

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