Webometric Thoughts

March 28, 2008

Print-on-demand: Amazon marks its territory

Filed under: Amazon,e-book,print-on-demand — admin @ 9:42 am

A posting over at TechCrunch highlights an Amazon announcement that is will only be selling print-on-demand books that use their own print-on-demand service BookSurge. Whilst this has implications for today’s other print-on-demand publishers such as Lulu, the true print-on-demand revolution has barely started and when it does Amazon’s old model of selling books will quickly fall down around its ears. Amazon needs to emphasise its publishing side before the online book selling business falls flat.

Personally I am a big fan of the traditional book, and feel that it has many years left in it yet; e-books will continue being the preserve of the geek for the foreseeable future. Whilst buying online has opened up a far wider range of books than was previously available in the local shop, and print-on-demand has increased the number of titles even further, we are currently having to suffer the delivery delay. The real excitement in print-on-demand will be when print-on-demand is available in the local highstreet: order any book you want and collect the printed copy ten minutes later.

Obviously there are numerous hurdles to jump through before print-on-demand comes to a highstreet near you, so it will probably be a few years yet, but I think (and hope) that it will come before the mass adoption of the e-book.

October 23, 2007

Kinset needs a bit more Second Life

Filed under: Amazon,Kinset,Online Shopping,Second Life — admin @ 10:58 am

Yesterday saw the launch of Kinset’s browser, the self-proclaimed “Internet’s first and only Truly Immersive 3D shopping experience” (brought to my attention by those folks at Mashable). Whilst their proclamation seems extremely debatable to anyone who has strolled along some of the rather curious boulevards in Second Life, there is little doubt that Kinset is taking online shopping to a whole new level.

Whilst the browser takes a while to download and install, once installed it will provide access to two established stores, with more on the way if other shops utilise Kinset’s technology. Currently there is Bunchabooks and LectroTown, both in association with Amazon, both fairly self-explanatory names. Both shops follow the traditional shop lay-outs, suitable for browsing, and if you can’t see what you want on the shelf you can always search for something more specific, and it will appear behind the till.

What Kinset shops are missing is the human element which is present in Second Life; the inclusion of the flat pictures of shop assistants in LectroTown (who are always facing you) just don’t provide the same welcoming feeling. Unfortunately Second Life either has box-like shops selling Second Life goods:

Or nice warm friendly looking places, which are unfortunately just for show:

I like people with my books. People-watching is one of the enjoyable parts of shopping/browsing in a bookshop, I like to see what others are looking at and buying, and it would be nice to see it included in 3D online shopping. There are also the obvious advantages of being able to discuss books with people in the shops, something that could make online book shopping more enjoyable than the physical book shopping experience where you are less likely to approach a perfect stranger for their opinion on something.

All in all the introduction of Kinset’s technology bodes well for the future of online shopping, and rather than a finished product may be seen as a taster of things to come. My only quibble is that the shops were restricted too much to the physical idea of space. Why can’t the headers leap to sub-shops on those particular subject?

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