Amazon seems to be experimenting with this interesting feature that allows you to do side-by-side comparisons of books. As of this morning, the button to access this only seems to pop up below the covers in a list of Top Sellers (e.g., Computers & Internet Top Sellers, Business & Investing Top Sellers). Click on the button and a small window pops up listing two other titles Amazon feels are worthy of comparison to the title you’re viewing. For example, the pop-up list for Freakonomics includes The World is Flat and Blink. Select any combination of those three titles from the list and Amazon displays a nice comparison page listing title, cover, availability, average customer review, sales rank and a brief description. So, what’s missing?…
How about the ability to search for index entries? For example, I’m looking at Google books and I want to see which one has more coverage of AdWords. Why not add a text entry field in that comparison pop-up window where I can search for an index entry or two? The results page would then show all instances of “AdWords” in the indexes of the books I’m comparing. I can see that one title has twice as much coverage of AdWords as the other, so I know which book is right for me.
Amazon has the ability to do this. After all, in order to support their Search Inside feature, they’ve scanned in the full contents a huge number of the books they sell. Why not connect this functionality with the comparison feature? It’s been proven many times over the years that indexes and index comparisons are an important step in the purchasing decision. Table of contents (toc’s) reviews are right up there too. Maybe Amazon could add a search option for toc’s in the comparison pop-up as well.
This simple enhancement not only adds to the attractiveness of the Amazon shopping experience, but it again helps them turn a perceived weakness (you don’t have the books in your hands to compare them like you would in a physical store) into a strength (let Amazon’s system do the comparison for you).