Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time and Money-Saver: Making Amazon and Google Work FOR You

Amazon is a hotbed of research material, and you don't even have to buy a single book! Forget Kindles, iPads, and all the rest.

When the 80/20 Principle applied to reading books, no one should ever read a book cover-to-cover except for pleasure. Using the Principle, all you need to read is the conclusion, the introduction, the conclusion once again, and then dip lightly into a chapter or two.

Why? Because only 20% of a book is actually useful material--the rest is fluff, filler, and charts/graphics. Why spend the time reading the other non-useful 80%?

I personally use Amazon's virtually open-door site all the time--I find books on my subject du jour, read the editorial comments, read the book description, then decide if it's worth my time to pursue further (most times it isn't). If so, then I delve into the "view sample pages" items--paying particular attention to the table of contents, index, chapter page (if available), and the back cover. I look for clues as to the one word or finding that supports the whole book...then I go to Google.

Example: subject--good and bad sugars. Rather than buying the book “Good and Bad Sugars”, I went to Amazon and checked all the things listed above...and found the keyword saccharides on the back cover. I then went to Google, and sure enough it was there. I then delved into Google's offerings and found other research (as well as the author's own papers and website). After a couple of hours of in-depth reading, I learned everything there was to know about saccharides (and a lot of it was cutting edge—far beyond what that book contained).

In my opinion, Amazon puts out WAY more information than the book-buying populace needs to have to make a purchase selection.

Did you know that fellow book writers and publishers also use Amazon to determine such things as probability of sales, book competition, and who to go to for a more favorable editorial review? Did you also know that books on writing books also tell you this information? They actually recommend you to use Amazon in your book-writing research when composing a book proposal to publishers.

Next time Amazon recommends you a book, or someone throws a subject at you, go to Amazon first, and then use Google--chances are books are available there for FREE. It saves tons of time and gets to the latest point without spending a dime. Both sites are in it for the hits anyway.

Is it ethical? If authors are stupid enough to make 20% of their books freely available at Amazon, and Amazon is stupid enough to make this (excessive) information available to the book-browsing community, then I'd be stupid if I didn't take advantage of it! Timesaving IS ethical, and so is cutting to the chase.

Another thing that serves to backlash authors is this: most of their research is done using Google--if THEY can find information there, so can YOU. You're interested in keywords to look up anyway, not a book bill or a loaded-down mailman.


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