Recently Google announced that they now allow PDF Downloads of all public domain books that are cataloged in “Google Books – Beta” (basically this is any book published before 1923). While many of the Internet Marketing blogs and news sources are reporting on this it is clear that the only reason they are doing so is that, “Google did it” (trust me if it was MSN Books – Beta even less buzz would be around about it). Clearly, no one seems to see an opportunity in this and even Google is just promoting it as a way to “download the classics” at no cost.
To me, there is an opportunity here for webmasters to download and then give these books away on their sites. I can hear you now, yelling at the screen telling me, “sure if your site is about classic literature or Shakespeare or something to that effect”. OK, well this is not something that will work in every niche but it may be a bit more versatile then you might think.
For instance, I have recently started to build some websites about snakes because one of my hobbies is that I am an armature herpetologist (that is a person that studies reptiles). Now you might not realize this but the world of reptiles is a pretty big niche with one particular site having sat in the top 14,000 of Alexa ratings for more than 5 years now.
OK, so how does this tie in together?
Well, I decided to search for any “reptile books” that might be on the public domain and had to smack myself when I found a certain book I should have been thinking of right from the get-go. The book is called, “The Reptile Book”, by Raymond Lee Ditmars. Now that may not mean much to you if you are not a herpetologist but you just have to trust me that Ditmars’ book is considered “the book” on reptiles and just about every book ever written after it was published in 1908 has referenced it more then a few times. In short, Ditmars is to herpetology as Einstein is to physics.
Now, most reptile enthusiasts have never actually seen a copy of this book other than in a library. So my thought was because this book is in PDF and can easily be placed on one of my servers, I could give it away in exchange for people joining my email list. Further I am also working on a reptile search engine using Eurekster’s Swicki so of course, I can do this with other books and incorporate those pages into my custom reptile search engine.
So exactly how does this differ than using typical eBooks for the same type of purpose? I hate to answer that this way but it is both exactly the same and completely different at the same time. You see for my visitors to my reptile sites, no marketer’s eBook has the clout and credit of Ditmars’ classic work. So while using it as an enticement and as a value add is exactly the same as doing so with an eBook on saying AdSense Profits it is also quite different.
First, not every other site in my niche is giving it away. Second, the author is not just a recognized name; he is literally an icon in the reptile and biology world. Further, his book is difficult to obtain in print because of its age and unlike Shakespeare or Homer it does not have the mass appeal to the general public so reprinting it for profit is quite a risk. Yet, to my niche, the book has great appeal and should help increase my email list subscription rate by a significant percentage.
When I presented the concept to a colleague, he stated, “sure but anyone can get the same book for free on Google Books”. I agree completely but do they know that? One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to assume your market knows everything you do. In fact, Internet marketers by nature are not “normal”, we know far more about the net and search industry then most “normal” people care to know.
Of course, if I find say 2 or 3 such specialized books and give them all away the effect is even greater. Additionally as famous as the book might be, many younger hobbyists only vaguely know of it from hearing it referenced in newer books, so I have an additional opportunity to do a brief review of this book and optimize that page as another source of traffic and conversions.
When I look at Google Books, this is the opportunity I see and in time I am sure I will find more niches to exploit with this new source of knowledge. So, if you are an Internet marketer, I ask you, are you looking at everything that comes your way and trying to find unique ways to benefit from them?
This post is less about Google Books and more about understanding how to view the world differently as a marketer then most people do on a day-to-day basis. Next time you hear a new announcement or news story see if you can find the hidden opportunity in it.
Are there any other “hidden opportunities” you can think of? If so please share them below in our comments section, whether or not they include Google Books.