Search for your own books – use as metasearch

Today’s post is a guest post by Scott Laming and Bernd Heinisch from team at


In online bookselling the competition is fierce. With such a vast number of books, sellers and marketplaces for a customer to choose from, it can be hard to stand out in the crowd.  However simple changes in your pricing or listing information could make a big difference for your future earnings, and if you use a metasearch – like it just takes one search to compare your offers to those of over 100,000 other sellers around the globe.

How many different marketplaces do you sell on? When did you last search for your own books on any of these websites?

Last week? Very Good!

A few months ago? Hmm, things may have changed.

Never? Oh, then this is a great opportunity to do it today!

You will never be able to micromanage all of your listings, so just select a dozen of your books which you think offer a representation of your whole inventory, additionally select some truly random books. Excel has a rand function =rand(), use it.  We will use these to spot check your competitiveness and listing quality.

Before you begin each test query take a moment to imagine who the typical buyer for each of your selected books might be? How would they phrase their search, what factors would be most important to them and does you’re listing explain the benefits of your listing compared to the competition…

Would the customer be a student looking for a textbook?

A student would probably search by ISBN.  Also they would likely value shipping speed more than condition.  Ask yourself if they would compare your domestic textbook to international editions?

Would they be a pensioner looking for an affordable price?

This customer would probably search by author and title using the full first name and surname and full title.  Also overall price is probably more important to this buyer than shipping speed.  Would they care if the book is new or used?

Would the buyer be a collector looking for a specific edition?

A collector might search by author and title, but will likely use keywords and all available filters to further refine their search.  The more meticulous your description, the more trust this buyer will have in your listings.  Also consider where this buyer might be located, collectors scour the globe looking for that rare listing; be mindful of global shipping rates for rare items.  Do you mention that you can offer insurance or tracking for high value items?  Which would describe your book:

  • Hardcover, First Edition and/or Signedimage001
  • Put in the publication year (same year for Min and Max).
  • Even add the publisher, illustrator or other bibliographic details in the keyword field.

On click on “Show more options” to see all the filter options available.  Experiment a little bit with these filters and find out:

Let’s assume your randomly selected collectible book was this:

This link shows you the above prefilled search form:

Now that you have completed your searches look back at your notes:

  1. a) Can your books be found on com?

If not, chances are customers cannot find them on other websites where you have listed them.

  1. b) Are your books competitively priced across all marketplaces?

If not does it make sense to lower prices or would it make more sense to shift your focus to less competitive books? Shift focus to a specific kind of buyer?  Or focus specifically on one marketplace for this kind of listing?

  1. c) Are your books described as well, or better, than others in the search?

If not, find out how you could better describe them. Customers love good descriptions.

  1. d) Are your books in better condition, and only slightly more expensive, than others?

If not, maybe you can think about how you could get there?

Of course these are just a few examples; you can expand on this idea on your own to tailor your marketing for your own inventory.  The main message is…

If you can find your books – chances are your customers can as well.  Once you have found your listing, ask yourself if you would buy your listing. 

Happy hunting, for your own books!

All the Best,
Scott Laming and Bernd Heinisch from team at

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