2 Ways Google is Killing Online Booksellers & How You Can Help

(1) Google Uses its Dominance in Search to Hijack Traffic from Websites

Google does this by placing content, it has collected from other websites, ahead of their search engine results, to sell its own products and services.  Google engages in this practice in a wide variety of areas from restaurant ratings to travel directions.

However, Google has had a particularly devastating impact on online booksellers—Google has literally embedded its own online bookstore prominently in their search engine results.  Rather than directing visitors to other websites, which should be the purpose of a search engine, Google is abusing their virtual monopoly in search by standing in bookseller’s virtual doorways and grabbing visitors before they can enter.

I’ve been tracking, and participating in, online book sales for 20 years.  My niche is Black literature and the impact on this group of sites has been particularly devastating.

Despite websites being less expensive and easier to create than ever before, there are far fewer websites dedicated to black literature today than there were 10 years ago. Those that remain are struggling to grow because they are unable to attract enough visitors to generate the revenue needed to maintain their websites.

The video below demonstrates how Google does this:

 

(2) Google’s Virtual Monopoly in Search Allows Them to Control Which Sites are Visited

I would argue that Google’s search engine is one of the the most significant developments on the web.  In fact, I use Google’s search engine on this site, because it is an excellent service (Google is discontinuing this service in 2018).

Unfortunately, Google does make mistakes, and these mistakes and be very costly if not catastrophic for the affected business.  Consider the following graph from Semrush’s website, which shows their estimate of this site’s traffic.

Graph of AALBC.com Traffic hit

While Semrush’s data is not prefect, they estimate a site’s traffic based upon how frequently it shows up in Google’s search results (big data stuff), they did correctly identify a significant drop in traffic to AALBC.com, back in 2011.  The drop in traffic was a direct result in a reduction of traffic from organic search from Google.

Now Google never provided, or even made themselves available for, an explanation of this dramatic, overnight, drop in traffic from search.  Many, less sophisticated, web site owners never knew what hit them. The drop in our traffic was apparently the result of a change in the code Google used to rank websites. Affected businesses were left to speculate on the specific underlying reasons for their site being penalized in search engine results.

This lack of transparency from Google has fostered a industry of people touting services to help you understand and improve (or game) your site’s search engine rankings.

This has also fostered a level of paranoia, which has led to an unwillingness of websites to link to each other for fear they could hurt their own site’s ranking in search. This behavior actually puts more power into Google’s hands, as websites are no longer a good way to discover other sites.  AALBC.com has never stopped linking to other good sites. Part of the value the site our site provides is helping visitors discover other websites they will enjoy.

From my experience, the best way to address Google’s search engine rankings is to follow all of Google’s recommendations and guidelines.  No matter how you feel about it, if you want your site to rank on the only search engine that matters, you must follow Google’s rules.

AALBC.com’s traffic has completely recovered 2011. 2017 is on track to be a record year for page views. Visitor quality is also better; visitors look at more pages and stay on the site longer.

AALBC.com is a higher quality site because of my adherence to Google’s mandates, but I invest a significant portion of my time addressing “Google Issues.”  This time and energy comes at the expense of creating valuable content for the site.

The environment created by Google also discourages the creation of new sites because it is not enough to produce quality content, you must also be well versed in Google search engine optimization.

Google Makes the World Wide Web a Less Rich Place

Because of these practices and more, Google makes the World Wide Web a much less rich place.  We are rapidly reaching a point where only the most massive corporate sites have a chance at survival.

Google has argued that they are trying to create the best possible experience for their visitors. In reality, what they have done is help make the web less accommodating to diversity and creativity, by making it an environment hostile to independence and where only the wealthiest companies have a chance to maintain a profitable platform.

Many who would have operated their own website, just 5 years ago, are now using Facebook as their primary web presence, because they believe their chances for discovery and survival are better on Facebook. As a result, visitors need a Facebook account to engage with this content. Once on Facebook visitors are treated to the same cookie cutter style and presentation. This situation contributes to concentrating of wealth into the hands of a few massive corporations. The rich get richer and wealth inequality continues to rises…

What Can You Do?

Support independent bookseller websites by;

  • Visiting their websites (here are more than 50);
  • Purchasing the products they sell;
  • Sharing their content by utilizing word of mouth, social media, anyway that makes sense;
  • Linking to bookseller websites from your website or blog;
  • Engaging with their content by leaving comments and participating in their discussion forums; and
  • Buying advertising on their platforms if available;

Sure, buying from an indie bookseller, might cost you a bit more on the price and you may need to wait a little longer to receive the product, but will we be better if the only place we can buy a book is from Google and Amazon?

Join our conversation about the importance of independent booksellers (both online and physical stores).

Support Independent websites, including this one, especially if you want them to thrive rather than merely survive.

Troy Johnson: Literary Activist of the Year 2017

Troy Johnson Literary Activist of the Year 2017

On June 10, 2017, I had the fortune of being honored with the Literary Activist of the Year Award, which was presented to me during a terrific ceremony at the EpiRiverside Center in Austell, Georgia.  The awards ceremony was hosted by AAMBC (African Americans on the Move Book Club). Fellow nominees, in the Literary Activist category, included Malaika AderoCurtis Bunn, Jeff Friday, and Lasheera Lee.

It really was a wonderful ceremony. There was entertainment, including live musical performances, spoken word, and even comedy. Poet, Nikki Giovanni honored with the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award.  Writer Teri Woods was also honored for her impact in Urban Fiction.

Most of my time is spent behind a screen tapping away at a keyboard. It is not glamorous work and 95% of it takes place behind the scenes in isolation.  It is neither glamorous or very lucrative, so I truly appreciate the times when my effort is recognized as important and worthy of celebration.

My hat goes off to Tamika Newhouse, founder of the AAMBC Literary Awards, for doing more than her part to celebrate Black writers and the professionals who support them.

Poet Nikki Giovanni and AALBC.com Founder Troy Johnson

with Poet Nikki Giovanni

with fellow Nominee, Malaika Adero

The Complete List of Winners

Literary Activist
Winner: Troy Johnson

Book Club of the Year
Winner: 556 Book Chicks

Publisher of the Year
Winner: St. Martins Press

Male Author of the Year
Winner: Marc Lamont Hill

Female Author of the Year
Winner: Mercy B.

Non- Fiction/Self Help Book of the Year
Winner: Around the Way Girl by Tarajee P. Henson and Denene Millner

Angie Martinez My Voice: A Memoir by Angie Martinez
Winner: I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayai

Magazine of the Year
Winner: Essence

Breakout Author of the Year
Winner: Dedra Allen

Independent Digital Publisher of the Year
Winner: Shan Presents

Street Lit Writer of the Year
Winner: K’wan

Urban Book of the Year
Winner: The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

Romance Author of the Year
Winner: Mercy B.

Screenwriter of the Year
Winner: Armani Martin

Reader’s Choice Award
Winner: Mz. Lady P.

eBook of the Year
Winner: St. Pierre Boyz: All is Fair in Love and War by Mesha Mesh and Mz. Lady P.

Christian Fiction Author of the Year
Winner: Kimberla Lawson Roby

Editor of the Year
Winner: Vanessa K. De Luca

Vanguard of Urban Media
Winner: Blavity

Motion Picture of the Year
Winner: Secrets

Blogger of the Year
And the winner Christina S. Brown “Love Brown Sugar”

 

May 2017 Newsletter: Bestselling Books, New Books, Author Info, and Much More

Our May Newsletter is Generously Sponsored by AmistadOur May Newsletter is Generously Sponsored by Amistad


Bestselling Books

AALBC bestselling book March April 2017Bestselling Books: March/April 2017

aalbc bestseller logoProvenance a novel by Donna Drew Sawyer, which tops our fiction list, is now a 3-time AALBC.com Bestseller. Number one on our Children’s list is Sydney Sunshine and the Not-So-Magic Mirror, which makes 9-year-old author, Sydney McGee, the youngest bestselling author in AALBC.com history. On the nonfiction side we have 10 Ways Anyone Can Graduate From College Debt-Free: A Guide To Post-College Freedom by Kevin Y. Brown, leading all nonfiction titles.

Check out all the AALBC.com Bestsellers going back to 1998.

We are also in the process of designing a bestselling book seal which publishers and authors may use to help readers discover the books which are attracting the most attention on AALBC.com. We can use your help. Take a look at some of our designs and let us know what think.


AALBC.com Partners with What’s The 411 TV

AALBC.com partners with whats the 411 TVTroy Johnson with Ruth J. Morrison, CEO of What’s The 411 Networks

AALBC.com has partnered with What’s The 411 TV to bring information about Black books, authors, events, and news to both What’s The 411TV and AALBC.com’s audiences.

What’s The 411 TV reaches 14 million subscribers across the country on DishTV and can also be seen on Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, and RCN in New York City. The relationship is a great opportunity to expand our respective platforms, reach more reader, and celebrate Black culture through books.


25 African Male Writers You Should Read

25 Male African WritersWe all know the iconic writers like Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe whose debut novel, Things Fall Apart, is perhaps the most widely read novel from the continent. We may also be familiar with the and Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. We may also be aware of Kenya’s Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o or Nuruddin Farah of Somalia, but there are many other great writers to be discovered; here we highlight just a small sample—enjoy! Learn more.


New Books Coming Out June 2017

Learn about excellent new books coming out this month and the coming months.


Recently Reviewed Books

Once Upon a LieOnce Upon a Lie by Michael R. French

Full of twists, turns and surprises, Once Upon a Lie will keep you guessing until the very end. Though readable and engaging, the real complexity and intricacy is in the telling of the stories and the rich multilayered and multi-dimensional characters that French handily delivers. Jaleel’s story, brilliantly highlights the often unrelenting pitfalls many black men face, in a country too often willing to punish them for simply living while black. And while the ending is in many ways as bleak you would imagine, it is not tragic for whom you’d expect. In fact, I found the book to be nothing like I thought it would be, at almost every turn. And for that I applaud French. Highly recommended.


Recommended Reads

The Fifth Season N. K. JemisinThe Fifth Season N. K. Jemisin

Jemisin’s first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award and short-listed for the James Tiptree Jr. Award. In 2011, it was also nominated for the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and won the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel.

In 2016, she became the first black person to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. The New York Times described The Fifth Season as “Intricate and extraordinary,” when it listed it a Notable Book of 2015.


Forbidden Fruit by Stanley GazembaForbidden Fruit by Stanley Gazemba

Forbidden Fruit is more than a dramatic tale of rural life in western Kenya. The moral slips and desperate cover-ups—sometimes sad, sometimes farcical—are the stories of time and place beyond the village of Maragoli. Previously published in Kenya as The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani? 2010), won the prestigious Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.

Republished (June 2017) by The Mantle who publishes emerging critics, writers, and intellectuals in the areas of arts & culture, international affairs, philosophy, and world literature.


Memoirs of Women in Blue: The Good, The Bad and No Longer Silent by Mickey See-Asia and RavenMemoirs of Women in Blue: The Good, The Bad and No Longer Silent by Mickey See-Asia and Raven

Mickey See-Asia and Raven, two former New York City police officers give you an inside look at what they observed while trying to protect the public. They also dealt with the politics that governed how police officers should act while in the performance of their duty. Furthermore, memoirs expose the reader to the realities faced by female police officers, who, for years have remained silent. Now, the public needs so desperately to interpret the senseless acts of violence that are occurring on an almost daily basis across our country.


Recent Videos

Samson Dempsey the “Midtown Playa” Turns NovelistSamson Dempsey the “Midtown Player” Turns Novelist

I’ve shot numerous videos of Brothers selling books on the street, but I have not done one in several years. I caught Sampson selling his books on 125th street in Harlem.

The first author I filmed selling books on the street was over 10 years ago, I captured then first-time author Randy Kearse. Randy went on to publish several more books and gain a great deal more prominence. A decade later, Randy told me he had only been out of jail for a couple of months and that he truly appreciated the support I showed him—that makes this all worthwhile 🙂


Inventor of the Portable Backpack Desk, Milton BertrandInventor of the Portable Backpack Desk, Milton Bertrand

When in Florida, I spend hours in Barnes and Noble and Starbucks working on AALBC.com. Over the last couple of years, I’ve become friendly with Milton Bertrand.

We started talking because I noticed he was sitting in the B&N at a desk that he brought into the store himself. I thought who brings a desk to a bookstore?! We started talking and he explained how his desk actually folded up into his backpack. I thought that was such a cool idea, maybe you will too.


Mystery Novelist Ashley Lynch-HarrisMystery Novelist Ashley Lynch-Harris

I met Ashley Lynch-Harris at the Oxford Exchange Book Fair in Tampa Florida, on May 7, 2017. She was a little apprehensive when I first offered to film her talking about her book. But her husband encouraged her (they make a lovely couple), and she did a great job describing her new murder mystery, The Hotel Westend, which sounds intriguing.


Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st CenturyVote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century

We are compiling a fascinating list of our favorite Black Authors. Our new survey expands the scope of our list for the 20th Century, to include Black authors regardless of their nationality. The only requirement is that the authors you vote for must have been alive and published a book in the 21st century. Everyone is welcome to vote. (NOTE: You may vote for ANY Black author, not just the ones pictured).

Cast your vote today! and share the poll with others. This is a great way to discover and share information about new but significant writers from our network of readers. Check out the current results.


Minorities in Publishing (MIP)

Minorities in Publishing (MIP)Minorities in Publishing is an excellent bimonthly podcast hosted by Jenn Baker who discusses, with other publishing industry professionals issued related to diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing.

Check out the conversation with Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad Books (an imprint of HarperCollins focusing solely on Black voices). They discuss Tracy’s love of books and publishing, her desire to be an advocate for Black artists, the tenacity it takes to get in and stay in the industry, as well as how important support is from the consumer end to make sure more diverse books reach shelves.


140+ Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences


Join the Conversation

Is This Photo of Viola Davis Subtly Racist?Is This Photo of Viola Davis Subtly Racist?

Please take our short 4 question survey and let us know what you think. We have been having a fascinating discussion on the subject of racism. Is racism firmly entrenched in our culture or in our minds?

Check out this and other conversations on our discussion forums.


Win Patti Labelle’s New Cook Book

Win Patti Labelle’s New Cook BookBe one of the first three subscribers to identify three of the five African male writers pictured near the beginning of this newsletter. Email the three names to troy@aalbc.com. The first three emails received with three correct names will win. Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About by Patti Labelle. Desserts LaBelle is filled with beautiful images and instructions on making terrific desserts&mdash including Patti LaBelle’s world famous sweet potato pie.

This contest is sponsored by Grand Central Publishing.


Authors: Let AALBC.com be Your Official Web Presence

Authors: Let AALBC.com be Your Official Web PresenceAALBC.com believes an author is best served by having their own website. In reaction to seeing so many authors give up running their own website and turning to Facebook or Amazon to serve as their primary web presence, we decided to launch a new service.

We can help you register your domain name and direct it to your AALBC.com Profile Page. This will not only give readers a much richer experience with your books, you’ll also enjoy the next best thing to having a dedicated website. Plus you’ll reap the benefits of being on the largest platform dedicated to Black books and authors. Learn how to get started.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster, Troy JohnsonI’ll be in New York City on May 30th participating on a panel discussion about Funding for the Arts hosted by Harlem World Magazine; the next day, May 31st, I’ll be co-hosting the 11th Annual Black Park Party; in Sacramento CA, on June 6th, giving a talk entitled, “The Impact of Amazon, Google, and Facebook on the Black Book Ecosystem” during the Sacramento Black Book Festival; and in Atlanta GA, on June 10th, where I’ve been nominated for, “Literary Activist of the Year,” an honor which will be presented during The African Americans On The Move Book Club Literary Awards.

If you can make any of these events please stop by and say hello; I’d enjoy to meeting you.

Please know that AALBC.com continues to grow because of your support. Please spread the word about our site, post your comments on our pages, and consider purchasing for your newsletter subscription.

Peace & Love,

Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


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AALBC.com eNewsletter – May 24, 2017 – Issue #245

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