14 December 11 | Chad W. Post

Today’s Publishing Perspectives is all about Jellybooks, a new service for “Discovering, sharing and group buying ebooks.” Online book discovery was the focal point of the last couple weeks of my “Intro to Literary Publishing” class, so this comes at a perfect time . . .

Anyway, here’s a bit of Amanda DeMarco’s article:

Set to launch in early spring, the Jellybooks experience corrects some common mistakes in online book browsing, says Rhomberg: “We have spent many months trying to understand why physical bookshops still play such an important role in discovery.” For example, people really do use book covers in deciding what to read, so you won’t see thumbnail reductions. Interestingly (but very right when you think about it), cost isn’t much of a factor in choosing a book: “We found that price information plays very, very little role when users try to decide what makes for a great read. Clearly it matters when they have decided to buy a book at which point they will shop around (i.e. buy online and not in a physical store), but during the discovery process, price information is not a factor, so lets get rid of it.”

Once a user finds a book that looks interesting, they can download the first 10% to a personal cloud library account to read later on a device of their choice. These samples will be available two to six weeks before the title appears in stores. There’s no DRM, and they can be shared with a link without restriction. [. . .]

Once you’ve started browsing, downloading, and sharing, Jellybooks will use the information it has gathered to offer you special 50-percent off “Sweet Deals” on books that fit well with your choices so far. Not every Jellybooks user will be notified about every sale. “Books are quite personal and you don’t want people to get the wrong perception that they’re getting irrelevant stuff or too much stuff. So your reading and sharing behavior allows us to determine if you would be interested in getting the deal.”

Similar to Groupon, the deal only happens if enough people sign on to purchase, which means sharing is important for attaining the required number. If it’s reached within the 12-hour span, the book is downloaded (Sweet Deals are currently e-books only) and your credit card is charged. One important difference from Groupon, Rhomberg notes, is that “the discount has to be earned by the group as a whole. With Groupon it often just automatically goes over. Here we don’t want you to feel it’s too automatic and so you’re lazy…In its nuances it’s constructed to be a little more social and a little bit more about recommendations.”

Sounds like an interesting addition to the constantly growing list of discovery sites . . . I signed up to receive notification when this goes live and will definitely post about it once it has and I’ve had a chance to play with it.


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