Anobii's CEO Matteo Berlucchi agreed to answer crowdsourced questions from Twitter (using #askAnobii) and this blog. Thanks Matteo. Crowdsourced interview, here:
Q: @Middle_Innes What do you think is the most exciting thing Anobii will bring to the book industry in the next few years? #askanobii
A: Without doubt it's going to be "discovery". The new version of Anobii which we are about to release this summer, draws from the learnings of the existing community to offer a new way to discover books outside of the bestseller list. The polarisation around the top 10 list is unfortunately increasing and with the reduction in number of book stores it's bound to make discovery one of the key issues for the book industry. We hope the new Anobii will help in addressing this.
Q: @JohnP_Education How do you cope with ebooks? Any chance of Kindle/iBooks list imports? #askAnobii
A: We are finalising our cloud-based ebook service which will also launch as part of the Anobii 2.0 revamp. We are going to offer a very similar experience to the one offered by the Kindle environment (excluding a physical device). We like the idea of being able to import Kindle books into the Anobii ecosystem but it's not very straightforward. With a bit of luck.... ;-)
Q: @JohnP_Education Which is more important to you - the desktop web or the mobile web?#askAnobii
A: We are relaunching on the mobile web first with the desktop following shortly behind. We believe the mobile web is where the games will be made but there are still a lot of users who like to read their ebooks on their laptops or desktops. This is bound to change with the inevitable drop in prices of tablets and ereaders.
Q: @eoinpurcell What makes you different from the other book communities out there already, like LibraryThing and Shelfari? #askAnobii
A: The current Anobii is very similar to the other social networks for books. I would say that Anobii has a somewhat 'purer' collaborative approach and it's more crowd-sourced in the maintenance of the books data. The new Anobii will include a highly 'socially' integrated purchase of ebooks and a family of eReading apps which none of the other social networks offer.
Q: @pressfuturist Why and how should publishers get involved with your network if we're already engaging with our readers on facebook & twitter? #askanobii
A: The two are not mutually exclusive. Why should publishers sell their books from their own websites and also from other retailers? Aggregated services like Anobii offer reach to a broader community and more sophisticated technology platforms.
Q: @canadiancat I really like the use of Latin. Connecting with established social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Are there risks? Benefits? #askAnobii
A: Thanks @canadiancat, we like the Latin name too ;-) On connecting with fb and twitter I think that - if done correctly - brings more benefits than risks. The open graph offered by facebook is enormous and it makes you wonder whether there is much point in trying to rebuild the individual social graph of a user from scratch. Facebook offers the person-to-person link for your community out of the box. Our aim is to build the people-book link.
Q: @benjohncock How do you see aNobii expanding now that you have serious investors on board & does the HMV sale of WS mean bad news for you? #askAnobii
A: The expansion is going to be primarily in terms of offering. We are going to improve the discovery platform with a new idea which we'll reveal later this summer; we are then adding cloud based ebooks purchasing and a family of ereading apps. We call it 'Find, buy, engage'.
I think the sale of Waterstone's by HMV is a very good thing for Waterstone's. It's clear that now we are not going to have an important off-line channel which could have helped relaunching Anobii in the UK. We can still end up working together on a purely commercial basis though, so, time will tell! We are comfortable relying on our online ideas and skills for now.
Q: @ninadouglas Have you noticed changes in the online communities involved in aNobii since the explosion in popularity of twitter? #askanobii
A: Not really Nina, we have seen more impact from the use of Facebook as a recommendation channel. More so than Twitter probably because of the more personal nature of fb over twitter.
Q: @ninadouglas And a typical question from a kids/ YA pr... do teens (or younger) get involved in communities personally (or via schools?) #askanobii
A: Not really at this stage. These kind of networks are used by people who have a pretty comfortable relationship with reading (18 to 45 being the sweet-spot). While the system can be used by schools and teenagers - the new version even more so - at the moment I wouldn't say that this age group has embraced Anobii in any meaningful way.
Q: @peppersevensten Best crowd-sourcing tip for small or new companies? #askAnobii
A: Think crowd-sourced first. Whatever you are trying to achieve/build, always think first "can my users help me do it?". It sounds pretty banal but you would be surprised how unnatural this way of thinking is. The other advice is to not incentive your users for what you ask them to do. If you introduce a 'reward scheme' you can quickly alienate the system.
Questions from our blog
Q: For books digitized by Google, aNobii has enabled the Google Preview feature, allowing users can browse the book right away. Would Anobii consider adding an onsite preview capability for ebooks from other marketplaces or publishers if the technology was available (i.e. automatic epub to HTML5 browserbook converter)?
A: Not sure on this one. We are reviewing our position on sampling and previewing. Sorry but I can't really give you a firmer answer at this stage.
Q: What can Anobii offer that sites such as GoodReads and LibraryThing (which I believe have many more members) can't?
A: See answer above
Thank you all for the excellent questions. I really enjoyed answering them. I hope you will like at least some of the things Anobii will bring to the market this summer.
All the best and happy reading!
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