Ebook Discovery Site Designed to Help Users Focus on Reading

Since mid-December I’ve been working on a new site – Ebook Friendly. It’s an ebook site with a clear profile: to make discovering ebooks a part of reading, not a part of distraction. It’s up and running and you can check it at ebookfriendly.com (please come back later and share below what you think about it).

You may say “hey, but it’s looking like an ebook reading app… and why is it an Amazon associate site?” Both things were done on purpose. Because times change.

Selling goods is no more about opening a grand store, sending out press releases and waiting for crowds to come. Selling in times of social media is about constant contact with prospect customers. Having that in mind a single employee of a big ebookstore is equal to a guy who does exactly the same – but on his own.

Why app-like design?

The redesign of the io9 site is one of recent examples of embracing a graphic style typical for applications. It’s the first of Gawker blogs to get an application look. It’s a part of a new, serious trend. Why is that?

It’s application stores/marketplaces and applications themselves where you buy more and more digital goods (music, games, apps, ebooks, films) – with just a couple of clicks. It’s fast, convenient, but most of all – you can enjoy your purchase a few seconds later.

Many people use their smartphones and tablets to read ebooks. The design of an ebook reading app is all about positive associations: no distraction, no stress, calmness and reward. Why not bringing it a step back, when you buy a book?

Why distraction-free?

Most of bookstores are overcrowded with links, banners, widgets and references of all kinds. Is it what you really need when looking for a book?

What makes Ebook Friendly special is the way we deliver information. Opposite to Amazon, where on an average book page there are around 150 visible links, we reduced their number (and possible distractions) to only 20.

After a stressful day, after being attacked by hundreds of unrelated tweets, wall photos, mails and RSS headlines you really want to focus. The only question is whether you are not too tired to read.

People ask themselves a question “do I want to read a book?”. I’m afraid that over time more people will ask another question: “am I able to read a book?”. Ebook Friendly is designed to calm them down and help turn into a reading mode.

Why Amazon?

One could say: “why don’t you open your own ebookstore?”. Nice idea, but it needs a lot of hard work and money to take off. I see what happens in Poland. New ebookstores are crowding into a market – each one starts with a couple of hundred public domain books. This offer does not convince to turn into an avid ebook reader. They need bestsellers and new releases. And this is the hardest thing – to convince publishers to ebooks and to make them include you on their list of digital distributors.

The biggest Polish ebookstore, Empik, with a huge money for advertising and PR, offers no more than 8,000 titles in digital format. Can anyone be better than that? Yes, if you change a perspective and ask different questions:

1. Do you really need to sell ebooks locally, be a next big-small guy?
2. Why would you need 50% of the price? Can you keep just 5%?
3. You’ve got only 100-200 dollars to start the business. Can you do that?

The answer which comes to mind is a micro-partnership solution offered by the biggest player around – Amazon.

When you’re an Amazon associate, you can start selling 100 times more books than the biggest Polish ebookstore. In fact you can do it in a few minutes – just copy and paste to your blog a short piece of code (you see, I told you, times change).

Internet gives you a worldwide reach and you can solely focus on promoting a bookstore, instead of negotiating contracts, dealing with conversion issues, employing people and printing office stationery.

Ebook Friendly is more than just a copy-paste associate store. I spent a lot of time to simplify the user interface and integrate it with a not-so-elastic Amazon’s store layout. The information is streamed into channels: news (Twitter based stream from different sources), bestsellers, staff picks (mostly indie books) and tips&more (simple advice for whose who start an adventure with ebooks).

Sure, there are a couple of flaws, like the fact that ebooks can’t be added to a shopping chart directly from the site. Amazon doesn’t sell digital content through their associates. Yet. I think it will change, and it’s good to be there when selling goods will all be about effectiveness and creativity in an online presence.

Wish us luck and if you feel distracted you know where to find a friendly place…

10 Replies to “Ebook Discovery Site Designed to Help Users Focus on Reading”

  1. I have to admit I really like it, I’ve found Amazon too busy for far too long. It’s fantastic to go and just buy a particular book but it’s a nightmare for browsing. Hope this takes off!


  2. Thanks Adam for sharing your insight! The idea for this site came to me when Google started their eBookstore. It was supposed to be a big, fully fledged combo, but it was just looking so unattractive and poor.
    I’ve compared front pages of Amazon, Google, Kobo and Barnes&Noble and realized that having many links means “you’ve got it all here” – but on the other side it totally ruins the reading mood.
    Ebook Friendly is meant to be a calm landing place combined with a heavy social media presence. We’ll see, I’m full of energy!


  3. It would be interesting to see the site become successful – the online equivalent of an indie-bookshop. Amazon becoming a supplier rather than a retailer.
    Of course an indie bookseller with a difference – there is no limit to the number of copies you can stock – bestsellers or otherwise :)


  4. I would love to use ad free spaces, and I always choose those, if possible. I do go back to Amazon for rare books though or simply something I cannot find elsewhere.


  5. It’s great that you write about it, thank you. On one side we all learn how to deal with clutter, but on the other more and more people just feel they need places on the web they are able to focus. It’s my personal experience as well.


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