joerecsWhen we open our favorite e-book app, it typically jumps right to the last book we were reading.

That’s handy, but I’d like to see at least one other option when I open the app. How about a reader-customized landing page?

This page should be fully configurable, based exclusively on my particular interests. For example, we all have our favorite genres, topics and authors we like to follow. Let’s start off by allowing readers to place a widget on this landing page showing the top five bestsellers in their favorite category.

Another widget I’d love to see is a quick and easy way to grab samples of newly published (or upcoming) books in my preferred categories. So maybe a top five list again with a one-click sample download button next to each cover.

Then there’s the social opportunity: I recently asked one of my good friends to tell me the best World War II books he’s read over the past few years. That was done through a combination of texting and email. So how about adding a capability to this landing page so I can quickly find or follow my most trustworthy friends and answer that question right in the reader app? Both of us would have to opt in, of course, but what a great way to share and access highly relevant information, especially when it’s in such close proximity to the one-click sampling/buying process.

You’ve undoubtedly seen some of this functionality on your favorite retailer’s website or through their email marketing campaigns. That’s great, but sometimes I go to to buy dog food, not books, and my email inbox is already overflowing with other marketing messages. Frankly, I think I’ve become numb to all the sales pitches that hit my inbox every day. Now compare that to the times when I’m opening the Kindle or Google Play Books apps on my iPad; that’s when I’m focused on books, but not just reading. I’m often ready for book discovery when I launch those apps, so why not help me find what I might be interested in?

I also realize most of the time we might want to just leave well enough alone and continue jumping right back into that last book we were reading. Great, but how about placing a button in the app’s nav bar to quickly take me to this configurable landing page?

Another nice touch would be to let me customize the feeds by day and time. For example, if I’m opening it up during business hours I’m probably looking for work-related content. But let me also configure it to show sports and history lists and samples when it’s after 5pm or on the weekend.

You’d think that Amazon would already offer something like this in the Kindle app. All the other reader apps tend to follow their lead, and since books now represent such a small slice of Amazon’s overall revenue, it would be great to see some other e-book retailer step up and innovate with a service like this.

From Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies. Reproduced with permission.

Publisher’s Note

How do you yourself feel? Are the book recommendations useful or just so much clutter on your e-reader screen? Just to emphasize a point Joe has already made, there’s a new twist here. He’s saying the recs would be configurable. Good idea. Nonconfigurable recs are not. What’s more, readers should have the option to turn off recs entirely, which is what I normally do. – D.R.


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