Look Inside and Discover

← Return to contents

Most readers will be familiar with the concept of ‘look insides’ from Amazon’s listings, where customers are given the chance to open a book digitally and see a short selection of a book’s content – and according to almost all sources that report on such things, this is a vital piece of a book’s metadata, and can account for increased engagement, discoverability and sales.

As a result, it’s important for small presses to take advantage of ‘look inside’ possibilities – and there are many. Here are a few companies to think about:


Amazon’s Search Inside the Book Program

In order to upload to Amazon’s Search Inside the Book Program you’ll need a Seller Central PDF Upload (UK) account. Amazon supply some information here, and in the first instance you should contact them to ask for access.

Once you’re set up you’ll be able to upload your PDFs (again, they provide information, but you’ll likely find it easiest to make one PDF of the full book’s insides, with a front and back cover appended within the PDF, named by its ISBN, e.g. 9781913724009.pdf). Once you upload it they’ll process it – check back in a few days and you should see it on their website.

If you produce ebooks as well as print editions, when you upload a Kindle edition Amazon will likely link it to the print edition and offer the ebook as a ‘look inside’ option for both formats.


Google Book Previews

Another free service, Google’s all-in-one upload solution enables you to add full PDFs to your account, which will allow selections to be previewed on Google.

Like Amazon, they want the full inside PDF, and you’ll need to fill in lots of metadata too. (Please note, if you’re a classics publisher they might refuse to take your titles which are in the public domain, as they limit this to their favoured – here’s looking at you, Penguin – publishers.)

More information about the service can be found here.


Exact Editions’ Reading Rooms

Launched in 2022, Exact Editions have created a platform for publishers (with both free and paid memberships) which offer look-inside possibilities, billed as ‘A book marketing platform publishers can use to connect books with consumer and trade customers to drive sales’.

With the free version, publishers can upload their full PDFs and create ‘digital book previews’, which contain a selection of pages from the front and rear of the book, with a link out to the publisher’s website (or desired retailer) when the sample is finished. (Find an example of one of our titles here.) While the majority of presses use these links on their websites, social media and newsletters, each link comes with a QR code, which of course you could print and distribute on posters, flyers, etc.

Uploads are quick and simple, and although the free version means you need to upload titles one by one, it doesn’t take very long to do.

Exact Editions say the pro version also allows publishers to: share extract(s) of the book digitally with customisable preview pages; distribute time-limited full access links to books for digital review, inspection, and rights copies; curate time-limited virtual book collections, including either previews or full access to the books included; access the bulk-upload tool.

For many publishers who want to supply inspection copies digitally, this is a viable – and less expensive than many alternatives – option for sending time-limited access to digital titles without blindly sending out PDFs.

It should also be noted that the free version of Reading Rooms comes with a visually accessible graph of statistics, which, if slightly basic, is likely all the information (and more) that you’ll require – what has been read, etc, how many times – while pro users have the possibility of adding Google Analytics search properties for their titles for more in-depth stats.

We spoke to Ellie Burnage at Exact Editions when writing this piece, and she said:

Exact Editions’ Reading Rooms for Books allows publishers to freely upload an unlimited number of PDFs, selecting the number of pages available for preview at the front and back and a web page (shop link) to re-direct readers to. These book preview links are completely ad-free (as are the QR codes) and can be distributed in any digital context such as websites, social media, blogs, newsletters and more.

Visit the Reading Rooms for Books sign-up page here and enter your company name, your email address and password.

Please contact with any questions.

It’s also worth noting that Exact Editions run campaigns several times a year, and offer publishers the opportunity to submit titles to their collection, meaning you can submit (normally two) titles to be part of their Pride Month or Black History Month collections, offering free promotion opportunities.

At the time of writing publishers can opt for either a free or pro service; the paid service starts at $249 p/a.

Resources provided by Exact Editions

Reading Room For Books Explained

Reading Rooms for Books




Another small company with big ideas is Jellybooks, which launched its Discovery platform to great acclaim in 2021, with a collaboration with Blackwell’s.

Publishers setting up an account with Jellybooks can upload their ePub (ebook) editions to create ‘look insides’ for their titles – which are then available for bookshops to use on their websites. Here’s an example, using one of Fly on the Wall’s titles. Like Exact Editions, each link comes with a QR code, which of course you could print and distribute on posters, flyers, etc.

We spoke to Andrew Rhomberg at Jellybooks for this article, and he said:

The Jellybooks Discovery platform offers publishers the opportunity to improve book discovery. The platform provides high-street bookshops and independent retailers with online book excerpts and audiobook snippets from participating publishers either as web modals or links. The platform can also be used for social media marketing, author care, publicity and publisher’s email newsletters to improve the customer journey from discovery to purchase.

Discovery samples are distributed from publication date onwards and are tailored by Jellybooks to the requirements of each bookshop, retailer, publisher and partner with customised purchase paths (buy buttons at end of sample) unique to each.

You can grab your sample links either manually, through our publisher portal, or programmatically through our API, which is dead easy to integrate.

We also have a lot of retailer integrations: we are used by dozens of smaller indie bookshops such as Rossister Books, Coles Books, Book-ish, Truman Books and many more – and of course Blackwell’s too – and Dubray is the latest to have gone live (they call it ‘peek inside’). Coming soon are Easons, Stanford’s Travel, Toppings & Company, Guardian Bookshop, Times Bookshop and more. Blackwell’s also uses samples in their weekly email newsletter. A list of participating retailers can be found here.

Jellybooks aims to take as much hassle out of the process as possible and ensure wide distribution to bookshops and retailers. Past promotions have included an interactive magazine with the Booker Prize, and an Easter promotion with Blackwell’s. The latter also uses sample in its weekly newsletter to readers.

The service is used by over 100 indie publishers, including Bluemoose Books, Dead Ink, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Istros Books and Fly on the Wall Press, as well as larger publishers such as Bloodaxe Books, Granta Books, Luath, Birlinn, Bristol University Press, DK, Pan Macmillan and Penguin Random House.

It is worth noting that some publishers have access to this service via their ebook aggregator (Andrew said they can receive feeds from Faber Factory, Ingram Coresource, Codemantra, Bookwire, Consonance, Inpress and Turnaround Publishing, ensuring a fully automated submission and update experience).

Jellybooks also have a National Literacy Trust project in the works, which might be of interest to children’s book publishers, and they say they also run promotions using books on the system – e.g. producing postcards and bookmarks with QR codes on and distributing them at Gardners’ trade show.

Publishers wanting to find out about the upload process can do so here. At the time of writing the service starts at £100 p/a + VAT, and a free trial is available for Indie Press Network members.

Resources provided by Jellybooks

Jellybooks Discovery for Publishers





Last updated: 15th November 2023
Author(s): Will Dady, Renard Press