This week, Barnes & Noble held a media event in its Union Square store. They shared a whole bunch of holiday-related stuff, including two new apps and a new online tool that may impact how readers buy books. The theme of all of these? Emulating the bookstore experience online. Here’s what you as an author need to know about the new apps from B&N.
New Apps from B&N
You click on a particular book that they are featuring. You then get a book description. But with it comes what I call a “book tree” — something that links these books to other related books that share similar themes. The tree even has limbs, so to speak, so there’s a limb related to one theme that carries through the book. If the book is a murder mystery, there may be one limb of the tree that connects to other murder mysteries. If it also takes place in the 19th century, another limb may connect you to other books set in the same time period. In essence, this tool allows you to click on a particular book that you love and then find other books that may be of interest to you. Every book sits on a tree and is somehow interconnected to others.
B&N describes this tool as an “interactive discovery tool” which displays a “matrix of titles.” Be aware, though, that this tool is currently only available on desktop computers.
So what should you, as an author, understand about this app? Well, the first thing you should do is check out where your book sits on the tree. Find your title. See what (if anything) is connected to it. This will not only give you an idea of how people might find your book, but it can also be a good way to identify other authors whom you might want to reach out to about cross-promotion.
While not yet available, this app will be released soon — for both desktop and mobile.
Here’s how this one works: If you want to send a book as a holiday gift, you can select the book through this app. The person who you are sending it to you will receive an email letting them know that this book has been chosen as a gift for them. They can then click through to B&N to learn more about the book and see if they actually want it. If they don’t, they can essentially exchange the book (before it’s even sent to them) for an equivalent that is more to their liking.
So how will this impact you as a writer? Well, make sure your book includes a strong description on the B&N site. After all, you don’t want to make it easy for someone to turn it down as a gift!
And speaking of books as gifts… this year, B&N has moved their entire holiday gift guide online! It allows you to sort by the age and gender of the person you’re looking to buy a book for. It also includes editorial picks and various specialty lists, like books under $10 or best coffee table books. Each list allows you to see either just a collage of the covers, or more detailed descriptions of each title, including the author, number of pages and cost.
If you’re one of the lucky writers to have your book listed here, congratulations! May you sell many books as a result. For the rest of us? Well, we’ll just have to browse books on these new apps from B&N like everyone else.