Online Retailer Launches New Product Initiative To Let Customers Search Books Online


Feature Drives Higher Sales for Retailer


Industry leaders stay one step ahead of the competition. For one major online retailer, that means continually finding ways to reaffirm its reputation as the most innovative retail store on the Internet.

Facing renewed competition from booksellers with brick and mortar stores where customers could actually browse, the online bookstore struck back by launching a feature that allowed customers to view selected parts of a book online. Two years later, the retailer introduced the logical next step to enable registered customers to browse for specific phrases or topics of interest in more than 200,000 books.

Both features offset one of the advantages held by the retailer’s competitors with brick and mortar branches – letting the customer read the contents of a book before they make a purchase. Just as important, the two technology initiatives helped the company solidify its standing as a ground-breaking online retailer.

At the same time, the company did not want to invest in the resources required to convert those books into digital images.


While the company is renowned for its technological leadership, digitizing tens of million pages from more than 200,000 books on its own did not make sense economically or logistically. The retailer quickly realized that it needed to partner with a company that could scale rapidly and complete the projects within its tight production schedule.

Innodata Isogen fit the bill. With its extensive experience converting data from physical formats into digital content, Innodata Isogen was ready to mobilize its production teams to help the retailer meet its goals — in terms of quality, budget and time.


Innodata Isogen has provided content production services for hundreds of clients. While the company had never digitized this many books before, the production team rose to the task, mobilizing more than 2,000 people to work on both projects.

Logistics were another challenge. The retailer shipped more than 120,000 books – via both air courier and ship – to the production center in Asia for the first project and then sent an additional 80,000 titles for the next project. Once the books arrived at the production centers, teams would de-spine the volumes, and then collate and scan the pages. Images were converted into an electronic file and stored on tapes, which were fl own to the retailer’s data center in the United States.

The challenges were similar for the second project, although on a much larger scale. The teams scanned the entire contents of a book – almost 600 books per day – and then sent tapes containing up to 1,000 books to the retailer.

Innodata Isogen also performed basic indexing for the file formats, creating one image and attribute file per page to help the retailer upload the digitized images to its Web site. In addition to complying with the tight deadlines, the production teams also met the retailer’s rigorous quality control standards, sending each book through a final review to check the image quality and ensure that the pages were complete.

The retailer did not reject a single image.


For the online retailer, turning the entire data conversion process over to a proven content production provider like Innodata Isogen made perfect sense. Developing its own capabilities would have taken too much time and energy. As a result, the retailer could continue focusing on what it does best – meeting the needs of its customers.

And by flattening one of the barriers to buying books over the Internet – the ability to read the contents before making a purchase – the retailer also drove higher sales. In the first five days after introducing the feature, the retailer’s online book sales rose 9 percent. Moreover, this boost in sales convinced another 37 publishers to join the 190 companies that had signed up for the initial launch.

This ground-breaking initiative positioned the company to advance to the next plateau in e-commerce, as an online retailer capable of offering a full array of digital products to its customers.



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