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This post tells my “user” experience of getting mGoogle-book-reviewsy book listed on Google Books.

I was surprised to see that my book What is Religion? published in the US by Wipf & Stock was not listed on Google Books after several months. I thus thought that the process was probably complicated. So when I began to delve into this issue for the South Asian edition, I was surprised to find that listing a book on Google Books wasn’t that complicated at all… especially, if you have connections with the publisher and the designer.


Step 1. Get your publisher to agree to put the book on Google books. I found that there was some understandable hesitancy on behalf of my Indian publishers, like how much of the book will be visible etc. However, in principle my publishers were happy to have the book listed and also have me to do it for them.

Step 2: Have the pdf file ready. (Hopefully, your publisher can trust you with a pdf layout of the book. I put the cover and the backcover within the pdf, so that there would be no need to upload a cover separately).\

The Google process

Step 3. Register as Partner: Go to Google books ( and register as a partner. You need to have a google id, but you also need to be clear that you represent as author or as the publisher. Because my publisher authorised me to proceed with Google books, I acted as the publisher.  There is also an option to add a “user”, so I added my publisher’s email id as well, so that my publisher could also add information or books at a later stage.

Step 4. Add the book: I was then asked to “Add book” for which I needed the ISBN number handy as well as all the details about the book. The procedure is pretty simple if you follow the instructions. (The “template” is applicable if you want to publish multiple books and so having a template is handy so you can keep certain fields (like name and address of publisher unchanged).

Step 4+: Visible Pages: I had to specify how much of the book was visible. The minimum is 20%. I would have liked more of the book to be searchable, but I felt my publisher would probably want restricted access. Which, again, is fair. But what’s interesting here is that I could essentially keep changing this amount whenever I want. So in a few years, once the book is no longer in demand, I could increase the amount of the book that is available for viewing… all the way up to 100% if needed.

Step 4++: Specify Region Rights: One of the interesting things Google does is that asks you to state your publishing region “rights”. In the case of my publisher, they had the Global (World) rights for most of the books they published. However, for my book, we only had the Asian/South Asian rights. Sadly, there was no option to include only Asia/South Asia… so I had to manually enter the two letter country codes (which I found in a Wikipedia site), for each of the countries I wanted Google books to be visible. So, sadly, if someone is in the US, they will not be able to see the Google books editon of my book… but that also protects the territorial rights of publishers, which I respect.

Step 5. Upload Content: In the “add content” add your single pdf file (which includes front and back cover) so that you don’t have to upload multiple content pages.

Step 6. Payment profile: Now by default, Google books gets a book ready for Google play; which is their ebook portfolio. Thus, if you set up a payment profile, you can actually list the book for sale in Google Play Store and the ebook could be available for purchase. My publisher was a little more nervous about this, because giving google their bank account number was not something that they were interested in. And since I didn’t specifically have the ebooks rights of my book (Wipf & Stock didn’t specify, but I’m assuming that’s the case), I had to manually disable this option. Note that if you publish the book on google play and not provide a payment profile, then it after uploading you will get an error.

Step 6+. Where to buy?: Even if you do not want to set up a payment profile, Google will ask you to specify where to buy the book. If you have a site (and it should be your official site) that sells the book, then Google will list it first among all the other sites where the book could be available.

Step 6++. eCopy for reviewer: One interesting thing Google offers is that you can enable “reviewers” to have a copy to be readable online, as if the book was being read on Google Play Store. By giving a particular email id, that recipient would get full access to the electronic version of the book. I could, then, remove the rights of the Reviewer at anytime. This I found useful for sharing to people who wanted to have a look at the book before committing to buy it.

Step 7. Waiting: Finally, after all the options are entered, you wait. First the book gets uploaded, then it gets listed. But then, I had to wait for a little over a week before the book could be searchable on the Google search engine. In fact, it was really sad to see the book on Google books, but Google itself not being able to “find it”. Nor were the words in the book searchable during that stage. I even sent a mail to google to enquire if there was something wrong, and they wrote back saying that they were facing some technical difficulties, but should get it sorted soon. So perhaps that week-long delay is abnormal.

Now my book and the other two books I uploaded for my publisher are on Google and searchable.  It’s great to see, and easy enough to do.

And to prove that it works, here are the links to the books I uploaded on Google Books:

What is Religion?

Christians in the Public Square:

Indian and Christian:




ImageI just tried my first ebooks sample through (Google’s play store). In India, we finally have the ability to buy PlayStore books. They are expensive (really expensive). But still, they are available, which is great. However, I just found out that the Google Play Books (unless a scanned copy is available), do not have the accurate page numbers for academic references. What is ironic is that the book I was testing, was available to preview on Google Books with its academic page numbers (as we’re used to). But not on the Google Play Store. Now, that’s a downer! Why would I pay Rs. 2000+ for a book I cannot cite in my research?

To see what I mean, check out the two links of the sample pages of the introduction.

First link on Google Books (as we would expect google to show its books).

Second link on Google’s play store.

In an interesting interview of some high-up Google-guys in, I came across a quote that is significant to how knowledge is so subjective, especially even in a Google search engine.  In response to how Google is filtering out spam results, or even low-quality content from its search results, Cutts went on to say:

Cutts: In some sense when people come to Google, that’s exactly what they’re asking for — our editorial judgment. They’re expressed via algorithms. When someone comes to Google, the only way to be neutral is either to randomize the links or to do it alphabetically. If we don’t have the ability to change how we rank things to try to improve the search engine, that goes right to the crux of everything.

While most of us would agree that search results need to be filtered, we are often not aware that when we “google” something, we are actually seeing a list that is editorialised by Google. Any search result is therefore not neutral but determined, by a complex algorithm along with user involvement.

Of course other search engines do the same thing. And one of the reasons Google is so successful is because they seem to aim at neutrality as well as quality (a fine line between subjectivity and objectivity). Plus, they still provide the most useful and best search results (compared to what I’ve found in other sites).

So, this is not a critique of Google, just an interest heads up for me… a reminder that there is more subjectivity around us than we think.

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