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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Zoomii - Amazon's new Virtual Bookstore

zoomii-amazon-bookstoreWe all love buying books online, as its convenient, and you can share user reviews and opinions, and of course, get the best deals! And I'm pretty sure most of us turn to Amazon for our online bookstore needs. And now Zoomii, the latest addition to Amazon's virtual bookstore world will make it a more real-world library-like experience! You have to admit, there is some charm to traditional libraries, where you can browse through aisles of books arranged neatly in bookshelves, and Zoomii tries to recreate that magic. If you often shop for books online, Zoomii is something you'd want to check out!

Zoomii is a visual bookshelf browser for over 19,000 books from Amazon's catalog, though it can search for over 162,000 titles. Instead of browsing through flat lists of book titles and their cold statistics, Zoomii stacks books in shelves alphabetically by author, organized by type. You can click and drag across Zoomii's landscape of shelves, zoom in and out with your scrollwheel, and click a book's cover for basic statistics from Amazon, including the ability to add the book to your cart or wishlist. I'm not too sure how Zoomii picks the books that stock its shelves, but some kind of system that picks through a combination of top sellers and new releases is a safe bet.

The home page looks like Google Maps, except for books! with a simple scroll and zoom wheel, category tab, search tab, and a short view of your shopping cart, it is pretty simple to navigate. Use your mouse to browse around, jump from one shelve to another, zoom in/out, add items to your cart, add books to your wish list and so on. The categories are aptly sorted so its easy to browse and search for a particular title. The Zoom-in and Zom-out feature is really cool! You get to see the book cover, pretty much the actual size, and a click will take you to a detailed description of the book. Then if you like it, just one click will add it to your shopping cart and after you are done with all your books, use Amazon's trusted store to process your order! They also have a shelf full of best-sellers for each category, just like your local library. Check out this cool Zoomii Video for a better understanding of the features.

Nothing much changes as far as the book selection and purchase is concerned; but it does bring a flair to the process of browsing and selecting books. I agree, its not a show-stealer, but Zoomii does have the potential to keep visitors engaged for a longer time, which is indeed a very important aspect of e-commerce! On the downside, the site does not support AJAX, hence you'd get used to a lot of "clicks", rather than "mouse-overs"; and there is a limited database yet, but I'm hoping Amazon will be updating it soon. it runs pretty slow on Firefox 3, but is fine with other browsers, so you may want to avoid the former!

Overall, Zoomii is a nifty addition to Amazon's attempt to provide more to their customers through the virtual bookstore, but it fails to dazzle. Except the interface, nothing more has been added. A few more features and faster load times could help Zoomii get more following. Its a nice idea, but not extra-ordinary, that's all I can say about Zoomii!

Komeng Adul

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