A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my biggest issues with eBooks was the ability to find relevant ones and browse through options. Emails about the ten most popular bestsellers or clicking through page after page (ten books each) of a genre category doesn’t always feel like the best way to find things I might be interested in, particularly weird new things I would need to stumble across by accident.
Shockingly, I am not the first person to think this is an issue. And more importantly, other people did not just sit around with their knitting (or with some other hobby. Are there other hobbies? I have heard rumours, but cannot understand it myself) muttering about it; they have actually gone about proposing solutions. You go entrepreneurial book-people!
Jellybooks (details on paidcontent) will let you browse full-size book covers and download the first 10% of any book you think looks interesting. If you like it or think it looks interesting, you can share the excerpt with people using a link. It doesn’t look like Jellybooks is planning to sell books itself, but there will be a link at the end of the excerpt to online retailers. Jellybooks will then use the information on what you’ve read and shared (so if being tracked online freaks you out, this may not be for you) to create recommendation lists and offer group deals on books you might like.
Jellybooks will initially only be launching the UK. I am assuming the name is related to the Fourth Doctor’s penchant for Jelly Baby candies, which he goes around offering to friends and enemies alike, but that could just be my limited Anglo-knowledge.
Then there is StoryBundle (more details here, which is not where I originally saw it, but I can’t find that now), where you download a group of ebooks together and get a chance to check them all out. Bundles will be “curated”, which is a word I would have avoided because of its kind of negative association with Apple’s practices, but I assume is somewhat necessary in the ebook market where quality is highly variable. Supposedly you set the price for the bundle, so I have no idea how that’s going to work, but even just the bundle concept is intriguing to me.
Interestingly, both solve the problem of ebook discovery by trying to do volume-based things. StoryBundle gives you a large number of books, not all of which you may be interested in reading, but some of which could be hidden gems. Jellybooks relies on large numbers of people reading and recommending to create recommendation lists and then also offers deals when large numbers of people all agree to buy an ebook at a reduced price. When you don’t have to transport things, why not take advantage of volume-based deals? Both are DRM-free as well. Huzzah!
I’m signed up for email updates from both, but not much news so far. Neither is expecting to offer anything until early spring, but still, exciting times in the ebook world. (I myself am a big Kobo fan, but it would be nice to get some new ideas and ways of buying into the market).