Look at me (2): Baking in signals of usership



Following on from yesterday's post on the invisibility of Kindle-book titles , here's a nice link from Carol about what the publishing industry's up to.

However, as Jon (@jonhildrew) and I were discussing on twitter last night, while Amazon might find it attractive to feel that taking control of what readers see of others' choices (and locating them online in the walled garden of the Kindle store), this loses something important – for both the marketer and the consumer.

On the one hand, losing the widespread real-world window into what others are doing should significantly reduce our ability to see what is popular and how things are shifting reduce the spread of new and different titles and authors – real world influence being more powerful than online. For marketers for this kind of thing, this is going to make it harder to launch new and unfamiliar titles, authors and genres. Much more focus will need to be paid to POS and promotional deals.

On the other hand, for once, the people who buy books are also going to lose out as much as the marketers. For a long time now, covers have been part of our experience of books and turned them into social objects.

And as signals to be transmitted (intentionally or otherwise) and received and read instinctively. It reminds me of part of what we lost when music went from vinyl to tape (and then to mp3s)

Can't we find a way to bake-in this kind of stuff as Apple have done?

Imagine a football crowd without the scarves and replica shirts….







  1. Dan Thornton
    July 2, 2012

    The fact that you can’t see what someone is enjoying on their Kindle without obtrusively peering over their shoulder is probably counter-acted somewhat by the availability of that information electronically…
    I might not be able to gather social signals on the train anymore, but my daily online routine picks up the same things from Facebook, Amazon, occasionally GoodReads, some of the blogs recommending books etc.
    When you talk about the move from vinyl to MP3s – relatively few people came to my house and rummaged through my shelves of records compared to the number that have seen the 14,000+ tracks saved and published via Last.fm scrobbling, for example…
    Plus there are new social signals which couldn’t have been seen before – for instance, fitness data via Nike+, Nike Fuelband and other tools and apps.
    I agree there’s something being lost, but I’m not sure it’s not being replaced elsewhere…

  2. Mark Earls
    July 2, 2012

    You’re right, Dan – there are lots of other online sources of the information but my point is that it’s becoming increasingly clear that these are less powerful – less influential – than we (the advocates) would like to believe.
    I’m suggesting that as individuals – people-we-used-to-call-consumers – our experience of the artefact is now diluted by the absence of these embedded social signals.
    On the vinyl point, don’t you remember taking albums around with you?