Web App Opportunity: Visual Search Engine for books

by phil on Saturday Dec 13, 2008 10:51 PM
ideas for business

I have some experience is this particular field, but what I've found is that while visual search engines do exist—and some of them get funding—none of them have really taken off. I'm not sure if they ever will any time soon. One possible application for them could be in the book search world. There are some visual search engine's for books, like Big Book Search, yet none of them have taken off.

What I would like to do is replicate the same experience I get browsing through a bookstore. I realized today that, even with all the years of creative engineering at Amazon, they still haven't matched the pleasure and usefulness of just walking through the stacks of a bookstore or library.

What if you took a snapshot of the inventory of books in a particular bookstore, and figured out a way to arrange them such that browsing through them online was similar to wandering through the bookstore. Or you can make an inventory snapshot, but do one for every Borders or Barnes & Nobles. That way you can browse your favorite bookstore's inventory without going there, find a book, then go pick it up. I imagine something like a Minority Report UI, or something like CoverFlow. Maybe, better yet, avoid any full-screen takeover UIs, yet, somehow capture the sense of a long zoom. Maybe some sort of Google Maps zooming UI would be good. I actually don't know off the top of my head, how I'd conceive of one, but I think it wouldn't take long to imagine and develop one.

Amazon's great when you know what you want. But the brick-and-mortar Borders and Barnes & Noble are great when you don't know what you want. Bridge the divide and maybe profit.

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