Hey, Amazon, buy this: BookAnd
I don’t think that when Amazon buys something it’s automatically a bad thing, although I know some see them as the United Fruit Company* of the past couple of decades.
They generally buy something which is already working very well…and I believe they tend to continue to work well. However, they can become better integrated with Amazon.
is, I think, a good example. I liked it before, and I like it now. It’s my favorite movie reference site on the web, and I visit it literally every day. Now, though, it can take me to Amazon Instant Video, show me something related that’s on sale from Amazon, and supplies data for X-Ray for Movies on my Kindle Fire.
I’ve also been saying a lot about how I think Amazon should get more social.
Well, I downloaded a free app from the Amazon Appstore this morning:
and I think it has great potential for Amazon. It has a good concept…and does not execute it particularly well. Tying it into Amazon directly would also be a big benefit.
Here’s the idea:
Users create virtual 3D bookstores. They put their own books in there, and you can (even as an unregistered guest) wander around them. You see the books on stores in aisles (with their actual covers), pick one up, read what the person has said about it (if anything).
The “bookstore manager” (I’m a former brick and mortar bookstore manager) names the aisles, groups the books, writes the reviews.
You can go from the review of a book in one store to other users reviews…and jump from there to their stores.
It’s a brilliant idea, and has just the right amount of social for me. I’m not going to be interrupted: it isn’t user to user, it’s user to book to user (as far as I’ve seen).
The negative for me is that the interface is unusually clunky. It’s very slow to respond. I had to lock the rotation (swipe down-locked), because it kept insisting on being upside down. Searching for a book to add to your store was painfully slow and hard to work.
Amazon could fix all those interface issues. They could let us add books we’ve bought from Amazon, or easily import the results of a search at the Amazon store.
BookAnd supposedly lets you import from book sites, but you need the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to be showing on the screen, I think, so I couldn’t import from Manage Your Kindle or kindle.amazon.com or my media collection.
Right now, it’s purely social, except for some public domain books, which you can read in the store. You find a book in BookAnd, then you would go to Amazon to buy it.
Here’s the other piece that would be cool: let Amazon Associates get advertising fees from the virtual bookstores, and people can buy them directly through Amazon’s version of the store (although you’d really be going to Amazon, of course).
I really think this could be hugely innovative. Instead of shopping around Amazon.com, you go into a virtual mall of bookstores (you can mark favorites and move them around, in my vision of this). The users “decorate” the stores (you can do this in BookAnd…I believe they sell you decorations, but I haven’t tried that part yet).
You could have some very specialty stores this way…Dutch Military History or Science Fiction Sleuths, for example.
Ooh, and physical bookstores could do it, too! What a way for Amazon to work with them! They could sort of simulate the physical location. Amazon could let them upload a picture of the actual storefront! Hm…you could also do avatars of employees whether it was pros or not.
I’m liking this more and more the more I think about it. How about a science fiction bookstore…that you virtually enter in space and is staffed by aliens?
You could also do book events with real authors, certainly by running a chat, but perhaps traditional publishers would set up a video stream.
I think some folks from Amazon read this blog…maybe this will get them looking into it.
They could, of course, develop this all from scratch. It didn’t look to me like BookAnd was being used much yet, but buying it might be a good way to go (and avoids some legal issues).
If you try out the app and have a comment, please let me know. I’d be interested in the experience in using the app on other devices, like an iPad. Maybe it’s just clunky on the Fire. That’s another thing Amazon could do…make PC and Mac versions.
There’s a world of opportunity out there yet in books…we’ve seen something, to refute Al Jolson, but we haven’t seen it all.
* United Fruit Company bought out many other banana suppliers in Central America, and has not earned a good reputation for corporate citizenship, to put it mildly. It was nicknamed El Pulpo (“The Octopus”). I’ve been reading it about it in The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.