Springwise is a great resource for innovative ideas in the book world. Few books ago I read there about WEbook. Last week they brought to my attention an innovative combo of online bookstore and community I didn't know about - BookRabbit.
So what's so special about it? well, firstly that's probably the only one that allows readers to upload photos of their own bookshelves (if you're only interested in bookshelves, check out the great site Your Shelves! - http://yourhomelibrary.wordpress.com/, or of course our series 'my green bookshelf').
But it's more than just the opportunity to check out other people's bookshelves. BookRabbit explain it on their website : "BookRabbit is an online bookshop that dynamically connects readers, authors and publishers through the books they own. Using BookRabbit, readers can share their passion for books, make recommendations to other readers as well as creating their own personal bookcase and catalogues online – anything from medieval falconry, through bestsellers, to educational publications for schools. BookRabbit has a simple aim – to claim back book selling and book buying, enabling readers to discover the right books for them."
So how you can interact with fellow readers on BookRabbit? well, there are many options. You can join an ongoing discussion like 'books for rainy days?' or 'books by models?' or start a new one. You can take a look a people's bookshelves, see what books are there and if you like what you see, you can send them a friend request. You can review a book, or read others' reviews, create your own categories for books, share recommendations and much more.
BookRabbit (http://www.bookrabbit.com/), which was founded by Kieron Smith and went through its public launch last month, is also a bookstore. They have more than 4m books on sale, and even more important they decided to offer the best prices on the top 100,000 titles, so they are cheaper than Amazon for these books. And they also offer free delivery within the UK.
BookRabbit is what I see as the online bookstore 2.0, combining two powerful lit applications of the digital age that so far went on different routes and never met - the online bookstore and online bookish communities/networks.
Book readers love to communicate and interact, whether it's on Facebook, Bookmooch, blogs, or other online platforms. BookRabbit understands that as an online bookstore, it makes sense to provide them with such a platform in-house, giving them useful and innovative tools to interact with each other. This way there's a much better chance that the next purchase of these readers (and it seems that many of them are avid readers) will eventually take place on the website.
I like BookRabbit's concept very much - firstly, they provide innovative interaction tools and not just copy others (kudos on the bookshelf idea!). Second, they have a real bold pledge that it's not easy at all to keep ("every week we check our prices against the top 100,000 books on Amazon UK to make sure we're cheaper"). They understand that with all the competitors out there, it's not enough to provide readers with cool platform and useful interaction tools, and count on their good will, but you also need to provide them with competitive pricing that will be compelling to their pockets.
I don't know if they'll grow to become the next Amazon (or Amazon 2.0), and I am not sure at all if that's their goal. But I am positive that they will become a model for the next generation of online bookstores (not the only one, but an important one) and we're going to see in the near future many that will try to follow them and create their version of BookRabbit.
Raz @ Eco-Libris
Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!