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Monday, February 11, 2008

Books 2.0: Will Widgets Help Sell More Books?

YouTube may have gone viral by letting users easily embed their favorite videos on their own webpages, but can you do the same thing with books (a decidedly non-technical medium)?

I just came across something I can't quite decide is either cool or just plain weird. TOR Books, which publishes titles like "I Am Legend" and "Halo", has what it calls "book widgets" that you can embed on your blog or social networking profile which show a brief description of whatever book you want to display along with price, publication date, and a "Buy" button.

You can access the embed code (available in both HTML and Java flavors) by clicking on the "Add this book to your web site" link featured on each book's description page. (Check out what the widget looks like below.)

But I can't quite help but think that this misses the mark of what a widget's purpose is. Widgets should add value to a site such as by letting you display a cool slideshow of your vacation photos or maybe letting you read a brief excerpt of a book. But the TOR widget doesn't seem to benefit anyone but TOR.

If they started an affiliate program that lets bloggers earn commission for purchases made through the widgets (similar to the popular, long-running Amazon Associates program), then I could understand why someone would want to display the widget. This would likely help TOR sell more books, but still doesn't address the shortcomings of the widget itself.

As it is, although it's a good first effort, the book widget doesn't seem to be very well thought-out and misses the key ingredients for a successful and, more importantly, useful widget.

Sample TOR book widget for "V: The Second Generation":

V: The Second Generation

V: The Second Generation



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