Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Executable ISBNs: Not As Dull As it Sounds

Exact Editions are doing some very cool things with magazines and they like to build technical solutions that solve interesting problems. They have been working with The Bookseller, and as a derivative of this work they came up with a way for ISBNs listed in some of The Bookseller publications to become executable. Why this is interesting is that the widget they have built effectively 'picks' up the ISBN of the static page and takes you to a web site which at this point is Google. (BTW, Exact Editions are using the same or similar tool to pick up things like phone numbers off the pages of the magazines in their e-Catalog).

The Bookseller produces a buyers guide which I liked so much we copied the whole thing for the US market when I was at Bowker. (Even down to the color coding). As a simple listing within subjects it always retained significant value for buyers. Enabling a user to click on an executable ISBN and create a list, learn more about the title, navigate to the publisher or a retailer makes this widget both really cool and really functional. And isn't that exactly what you want.

The application is still experimental and according to Adam Hodgkin at Exact Editions they showed The Bookseller staff the application and they liked it so much they put it up immediately; hence, they are likely to change how it works as they see how it is used. To see it click here and then go to the What's Hot nav bar and click on Buyers Guide. Chose one of the covers on the page. Once inside the guide, go to any pages and run your cursor over the page. Each ISBN will light up inside a green box. You are on your own from that point.

My thoughts expressed to Adam were as follows:
This bookseller thing is great. So easy. I think there should be a store front however instead of Google. I understand the agnosticism but if I am clicking on the isbn – effectively either looking for more information or wanting to buy – it could be an anti-climax getting steered to Google. What The Bookseller should do is build dynamic pages that once someone clicks on the Isbn they come to a retail outlet page where the user can see the book vended from four or five or six possible vendors. The Bookseller could sell each of these slots or storefronts. Perhaps also, the landing page could show more from that publisher which again would be potential ad sales
revenue for The Bookseller.
Booksellers and librarians who use these guides and who migrate their book browsing to the web will really enjoy using this application and it will be interesting to see how it evolves. The Exact Editions widget application could also be implemented at other publications - consumer magazines, newspapers, reviews publications for example - that will make it easier for consumers to create their own buy lists and shopping carts without having to scribble down titles or rip pages out of magazines.

Interestingly, the gap between The Bookseller site and Publisher's Weekly continues to grow to PW's disadvantage IMHO.

1 comment:

Eoin Purcell said...

I like the storefront idea. It would be very smooth.