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Google Adds "Buy eBook” Options to Book Knowledge Panels, But Leaves Out Kindle

Google frequently shows adverts called "Knowledge Panels" to the right of your search results. They’re intended to be a definitive unbiased source of information on a topic, business, or a book, but sometimes Google’s own corporate biases slip through.

The SEM Post brings us the news that Google has added buy buttons to the Knowledge Panels displayed next to book search results:

Google has launched new “buy e-books online” feature in the Google knowledge panel for books.   These first showed up for book related searches on Friday morning.

The most interesting thing about these is that they seem to be organic results and NOT paid.  They do not have a sponsored notation next to them.

The organic book buying options are all for ebooks and they show iBooks (Apple), Barnes & Noble, Google Play and Kobo.  What is noticeably absent however, is Amazon.

This also appears when you search for books on desktop as well, in a slightly different format.  Instead of showing icons, it shows tiny favicons with the company name in a list style.

Here’s one of the adverts next to the search results. Do you see what’s missing?


If your answer was that there is no link to the single largest print and ebook retailer, you win a prize.

Google includes links for Kobo, iBooks, B&N, and Play Books but has left out the one retailer which users are most likely to buy books from.

You can even search in Silk on a Fire tablet and Google still won’t show you a link to the Kindle Store:


The above screenshot is especially amusing because you can’t read an ebook from Google Play on a Fire tablet without either illegally stripping the DRM or installing several pirated Google apps, and yet Google still links to its ebookstore and not the Kindle Store.

Google is snubbing its biggest competitor, and that can’t be a coincidence.

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Carmen Webster Buxton December 6, 2016 um 1:18 am

Oh, I’m sure it’s not a coincidence! Interestingly, they do show the link for GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon, and if you go to a GoodReads book page, the links for Kindle and Amazon are there. When I searched on my own book titles, the ones with print editions had links to the B&N product page for the print copy (not not the Amazon print copy!) and the GoodReads page, both links showing the number of reviews and ratings on that site. However, my books don’t seem to have B&N "buy the ebook" links, only Google and Kobo, even though they’re all for sale on B&N.

Michael December 6, 2016 um 2:42 am

Companies thumbing their noses at one another is childish but can be entertaining at times. What bothers me is when doing so compromises user experience. It doesn’t make sense to exclude the top retailer in a list of buy links. Sure, Goodreads occupies a prime spot in the knowledge panel, and Amazon highlights its own buy links on the Goodreads site, but that’s not really the same.

Bing’s info boxes are more realistic, linking to Amazon, Audible, B&N, and Overdrive, acknowledging that people might be searching for print or audio as well as ebooks, and possibly wanting to borrow rather than buy. There’s no reason to include iTunes since most people looking to buy a book there will search through iBooks or iTunes. And Kobo and Google Play barely matter in the US market. Hm, I see that while Bing doesn’t attach an affiliate code to their main links, they do include one on the Look Inside button, which uses Amazon’s previewer. Shouldn’t that warrant disclosure of some sort?

Michael December 6, 2016 um 2:46 am

Oops, didn’t see that Carmen already mentioned Goodreads. Had the tab open for a time and forgot to refresh before posting my comment.

Anthony December 6, 2016 um 3:49 am

When I do a search on (being in Oz, always defaults to .au), it brings up kmart (aus) and No options for ebook unless I place ebook in the search title, still doesn’t show option to buy ebook to the right but 4 & 5th link is amazon and kobo respectively. If I do the same search on bing, it shows booktopia, book repository and angus and robertson. On bing and duck duck go, amazon links are at least 5 links down. It looks to me that google, bing and duck duck go are looking at your location, and previous searchs. I do wonder if Amazon is not too fussed about buying higher search results? Also I never look for ebook’s on the main search engines, so they don’t have a history for ebooks for me & I’m also using linux without kindle or kobo app installed.

Purple lady December 6, 2016 um 10:58 am

You can easily install Google Play store and Play Books now on Fire devices with no root using apks from APKMirror. I wouldn’t consider these pirated versions.

Nate Hoffelder December 6, 2016 um 11:02 am

Except they are pirated. Their distribution is unauthorized.

Frank December 6, 2016 um 11:48 am

I was told that those ebook services have to pay to be shown on the knowledge graph.

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