Information Access Seminar

Judging a Book by its Cover: Online Previews and Book Sales

Friday, February 6, 2009
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Fredrik Wallenberg
There has been a continued debate about the benefits and cost associated with providing free samples of information goods on the Internet. Some argue that the samples lead to increased sales through increased awareness of the good while others claim that the previews and samples cannibalize sales. In this paper I present a unifying model where we show that information about the good, specifically samples/trial versions/previews, etc., of the good have both a sales promoting and cannibalizing effect and that either of the two can be dominant. I then set up an experiment in which I look at the impact on the sales of a specific set of books from the enabling of searching the contents and previewing of pages relevant to the search query. I find no significant impact on sales from the previews. The sample available to me is however on the small side and also from a very specific genre, both of which impact the results.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015