Three mails in my inbox, all relating to an interest of mine – reading, but at three levels of engaging me. The easiest one to discuss is Rediff Books, which in a very matter of fact way gave me a list of books, including a 10 day MBA, how to save Income Tax, and ‘The Chronicles of Narnai’ (sic). It informed me that I had expressed an interest in receiving such information. I did? Reading, I’d say is a great vertical for a social network, but Rediff Books doesn’t seem to think so.
The second mail was from Shelfari, which gives me a status on what people in my network are doing. Now, I had signed up on Shelfari a while back, and had updated it for quite a while. My old blog even had a shelf I’d found cute. But somewhere down the line, its interface and utility ceased to interest me. I got quite irritated with their search which never managed to find my friends for me, only for me to get a mail from them later, not by them finding me, but on how they found this an interesting site, and wanted me to join. That was around the time that i became a Facebook fan, and found Visual Bookshelf. And why was that? Because Shelfari’s app on Facebook refused to work for me inspite of several tries. Now, to be fair, I might have been a rare case since I see a lot of people using it.
The interesting news last week, was Amazon’s acquisition of Shelfari, which leads to a strange relationship with its competitor, Library Thing. I noticed from the second link that the UI has been improved considerably, but they’d lost me way before I could experience that.The effects of such a partnership would be beneficial to both parties, as Shelfari gains from the scale of Amazon and its users, and Amazon gains a community that it couls scale up and synergise very effectively with its current services. Amazon is doing some interesting stuff, most prominent of which would be Kindle.
And that brings me to my favourite utility in this vertical – Visual Bookshelf. The biggest advantage I have is that I get to share it with all my friends on Facebook, and it automatically adds the friends who use the same app. It also means that I get to share a review on my newsfeed, so even those who don’t use the app can read it. VB’s mails to me are pretty simple – it tells me the status of the books I have added, and gives me an option to change it, it lets me know what my friends have added, and in a way I found very appealing, lets me know what the team is working on, and that’s some pretty interesting stuff.
But there is another app I’m considering to give a spin, and that’s ‘Books iRead’, from weRead, a team based in Bangalore. Its page on FB informs me that it has more than 6.5 lakh users, 25 of whom are friends. I read recently that it had been acquired by Lulu. Not exactly the Amazon kind of deal, although I couldn’t help but wonder whether the guys who should’ve actually done a tie up with weRead long ago should’ve been another Bangalore based online bookstore start up – Flipkart. It could’ve been perhaps as simple as me reviewing a book on Books iRead, a friend reading it and deciding to buy it, and Flipkart offering an option to buy. Now, Flipkart is doing some reasonably good work, and I loved the way they first caught my attention, but this would be a good context to remind them that they haven’t gotten back to me on Dublin, a book I’d asked for! But don’t worry, none of the online guys in India have, so there’s reason to cheer. Sigh!!
until next time, Read India