I have now been to several NY Tech Meetup meetings where the audience gets to hear (in five minutes) all about five or six new tech start ups. This is a large, appreciative and young audience and I have found myself nodding surreptitiously so some other gray beard across the aisle as we both realize the average age of the audience and the presenters are less than my shoe size. That doesn't stop the excitment however, and most of these presentations are really interesting having been vetted before hand.
This week a presentation from an online wine merchant was particularly interesting. The company Snooth is based in Brooklyn and has created a front door to wine sellers around the world. On top of that they have incorporated and organized content (formal and social) that provides a user with a wide degree of latitude in search. The interface is clean and the functionality is both well designed and obviously well tested.
Wine isn't really publishing or book related but what struck me relevant about this webstore were the similarities between the bookselling environment and wine. The founders speak about a disorganized and insular business that confused vintners and consumers alike. Applies to publishing - check. Yet wine is also complex in a similar manner to books. Wine is matched to taste and occasion and so are books. Wine is produced in many locations by many vintners - read subjects, authors or publishers. Wine is dominated by large brand merchandisers - read publishers. Wine is sold by many unconnected retailers - read book selling.
Snooth has aggrated content to support a consumers' choice and also aggregated supply so that consumers can locate and order from a local supplier (and one they know has the wine in stock). Snooth collects inventory data from a global network of 11,000 merchants and they recently announced their 100,000th registered user. And true to my heart, they are building a data analytics program that will support value-added revenue opportunites.
Michael Tamblyn suggested thinking about a new paradigm for on-line bookselling and Snooth could be an example. Check it out.