Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

August 05 2011

Top Stories: August 1-5, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.


Missing maps and the fragility of digital information
During a long drive through sparse terrain, Tim O'Reilly had a remarkable demonstration of the fragility of the "always on" connected mindset.
Google Plus defines an era of disruption at a moment's notice
When an entrant quickly yields considerable power in an existing market, and elicits potential for rapid innovation, this is what Jonathan Reichental calls the "G+ effect."
Science hacks chip away at the old barriers to entry
How can opening access to scientific data, equipment and lab space spur innovation? BioCurious' Eri Gentry and Ariel Waldman from Spacehack.org share a few ideas.
How online bookstores should get social
What if you could take the social aspects of brick-and-mortar bookstores and blend them with the convenience of online sales? Joe Wikert explains how an online social layer would benefit everyone involved in the publishing chain.
Data and the human-machine connection
Managing data and extracting meaning require new approaches, new education, and even a new language. Opera Solutions CEO Arnab Gupta discusses each of these areas.





Android Open, being held October 9-11 in San Francisco, is a big-tent meeting ground for app and game developers, carriers, chip manufacturers, content creators, OEMs, researchers, entrepreneurs, VCs, and business leaders. Save 20% on registration with the code AN11RAD.


August 03 2011

How online bookstores should get social

This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog ("Should Online Bookstores Go Social?"). It's republished with permission.


As I walked through a local brick-and-mortar bookstore the other day I overheard this exchange:

Customer #1: This is why I don't always buy online. I love holding and flipping through books.

Customer #2: Me too, but I really like spending time in the store and seeing if I can get any good recommendations while I'm wandering around.

That's so true. Shopping in person can have a social element to it, but shopping online is always a solitary experience. To be fair, I don't make a habit of bothering other customers in the bookstore but there have been times when I've asked their opinion, particularly if I overhear them saying something I'm interested in or if I see them picking up a book I'm considering. Then there are the in-store clerks: I've gotten valuable pointers from store personnel countless times.

What's the analog to that in the online bookstore? There isn't one. Sure you can read through product reviews but that's not the same as talking realtime with other customers or a clerk.

Online bookstores have gotten along just fine despite this brick-and-mortar advantage, of course. But if online stores enable this functionality would it lead to an even richer shopping experience? I think so.

Goodreads screen
By tapping fellow shoppers and staff for recommendations, online bookstores could supplement their search, purchasing and personalization tools.

Let's say you're searching your preferred .com for books about one of my favorite topics, the New York Yankees. Wouldn't it be cool if part of the screen listed other shoppers currently browsing the online store who have a history of buying books about the Yankees? They'd appear in a frame just like you see with instant messaging apps and you could initiate a quick chat with any of them about a book you're considering.

Before you privacy advocates get too wound up I'd like to point out that this service is something you'd have to opt into. If you prefer to shop without chatting with anyone you'd simply leave this service disabled. But if you're interested in talking to others with common interests and would love to get their recommendations this service is for you.

The service would automatically include your purchase history, excluding items you may not want to make public or just showing topics/areas of interest, not specific titles. Think of it like an overlay of your Goodreads shelf with a chat service, built right into the online bookstore.

As a consumer I'd love to have access to something like this. As a publisher I'd get even more use out of it. You could do real, live customer research anytime you want to (assuming the right customers are currently logged in).

Forget about the customers for a moment though and let's think about the in-store clerk. Wouldn't it be cool if there were virtual in-store clerks available to chat with, ready to make a recommendation or answer your questions? You might figure it makes no sense for an online bookstore to add to staff just to have a bunch of subject matter experts online for customer inquiries. I agree, but this is where the brick-and-mortar stores could use it to their advantage ...

Think about B&N, for example. There are hundreds of stores open from about 9AM ET till about 10PM PT each day. That's 16 hours each day and every store has one or more in-store clerks on the job at any given time. Connect the in-store computers to this service so that the NY clerk who manages the sports section and loves baseball gets notified when I have a general question about Yankees books. The clerk steps over to the computer and joins me in a chat session. The in-store employee now adds value to the online bookstore experience as well.

I'm just scratching the surface on this idea. How about making it more compelling with badges and credits earned for answering customer questions? Better yet, how about including an affiliate program so that if my recommendation results in a purchase I get a cut of the transaction?

Then there's the ebook side of this. How about letting me send you an excerpt from a book I'm recommending? If it's a better sample than the one the publisher made available it only increases the likelihood of generating a sale. And if it doesn't, the retailer should be capturing all this information and using it to follow-up with that customer to nudge them again on that book (or other related books).

I'm convinced social will play a crucial role in the future of search in general and I also see a terrific opportunity for it to add to the online book buying experience. How about you? Would you be interested in something like this if your favorite online bookseller implemented it?

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR




Related:



March 10 2011

7 ways ebook apps can help brick-and-mortar bookstores

This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog ("Helping Bookstores Remain Relevant"). It's republished with permission.

My iPhone is always with me when I'm in the bookstore. Many times I've found a book that interests me, I pick it up and browse through it, then pull out my iPhone, open the Kindle app and grab the ebook sample (assuming one exists). I've even bought Kindle ebooks on the spot in a bookstore with my iPhone. I feel bad, sort of, but it makes me realize the enormous opportunity brick-and-mortar bookstores are missing out on.

Ereader apps

I should also mention that I have several other bookstore apps on my iPhone including ones from Barnes & Noble and Borders. I've never pulled either one of those out while I'm in those stores. Never. Why would I? All my ebooks are in my Kindle library and none of these other e-tailers have given me a compelling reason to switch.

There's something the physical bookstores could do to stop me from constantly defaulting to the Kindle app: Build functionality into their own mobile apps that makes me want to go to their brick-and-mortar store.

Here's what I'm talking about:

  1. Use location-based services built into pretty much every smartphone to know when I'm in one of your stores.
  2. When I open your app and you've detected I'm in-store, offer me special deals which are only good for the next hour. Make sure all the deals are fully redeemable using only my smartphone app. Don't email me coupons. Push them into the app so I can just flash my iPhone at the checkout counter and be on my way without fumbling through my email inbox.
  3. If you sell your own reader device, don't make me bring it to your store for all this. My iPhone is always by my side but I refuse to bring a larger device just to get a deal. All the promotions and redemptions need to happen with nothing more than my smartphone. Plus, I probably don't even own your device. I'm happy reading my ebooks on an iPad today, I might switch to an Android tablet soon and I don't want to be locked into your hardware platform tomorrow.
  4. Most importantly, since I'll soon be using your reader app, not Amazon's, you'll know my reading habits...so focus the deals on the things I tend to buy.
  5. Offer specials on ebooks, print books as well as combinations. And don't forget about all the other things you sell in your store (remember the cafe!). If I'm standing in your store and I just bought the ebook version of the latest Mickey Mantle bestseller, make me an offer on the Major League Baseball preseason guide you sell in the magazine section.
  6. Take a page out of Groupon's play book. Use your nifty new app to track how many customers with common interests are currently standing in your stores. Push a message like this to all of them: "You're a history buff but you've never bought this great ebook about FDR. If at least 100 of you commit to buying it in the next 10 minutes we'll give you all a special discount of x%. Stop by the Biography section to browse the book and see why we think it's perfect for you."
  7. Surprise me! Use this app's services to make me want to visit your brick-and-mortar store more frequently!

Everything described above should be free to anyone. All they have to do is download your free smartphone app and create an account with you. But don't stop there. Offer a more exclusive membership program for an annual fee where I'll get even more deals than non-members receive. How about giving paying members access to lengthier ebook samples? I'd love that!

Finally, ask all customers to opt in to an anonymous data collection program so that you can analyze the results of all these terrific campaigns and use that data to create even better ones tomorrow. And don't forget you could also sell that information to publishers.

If you do all this I promise I'll start using your apps and I guarantee you'll see more purchases from me.



Related:




Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl