Where Are All the iOS Magazine Subscription Apps?
The Rapidly Shifting Ebook Retailer Landscape

I Want One-Click eBook Sampling

I rarely buy print books these days but I still love visiting my local bookstore to browse the latest releases.  The scenario typically plays out like this: I find something interesting and I pull out my iPhone to see if it's available in the iBookstore or the Kindle store.  If it is, I press a few more buttons to have the sample sent to my iPad.

What's wrong with this picture?  First, you could argue I shouldn't be browsing in my local bookstore if my intent is to buy online.  That's an issue the brick-and-mortar stores need to figure out.  And when they solve that problem, I hope it's by embracing the online world, not asking everyone to leave their iPhones at the door!

Actually, what's wrong here is the fact that I have to go through so many steps to get an ebook sample.  Why don't the major bookstores have apps that let me take a picture, and with that one simple click, push the ebook's sample to my device?  Sampling is one of the key steps I take along the way to making an ebook purchase.  I've probably got a couple dozen ebook samples in my Kindle and iBooks apps on my iPad; I have yet to buy an ebook without sampling it first.

So here's a chance for any book retailer with a mobile app to dramatically extend their reach.  I might be shopping in Retailer A's store but I might be more loyal to Retailer B, so I use B's app for this one-click sampling.  Keep in mind the sampling decision doesn't have to be made in a bookstore though.  You might be sitting next to someone on the subway and they're reading an interesting looking book; if you're brave enough(!), snap a picture of it and know the sample will be waiting for you.  Or maybe you're at a friend's house and see a book on their coffee table.  They rave about it, so you take a quick picture and voila, the sample is heading your way.

At least 2 of the major players already have mobile apps with camera functionality built in, but it's not for what I'm describing.  These camera features are all about physical products, not ebooks, and definitely not ebook samples.  When will one of them take the next step and integrate a one-click ebook sampling feature like I'm describing?

P.S. -- They don't have to do this right away, but at some point I also hope the retailers build a social component into this.  I'd like to identify my friends and family members who also use the app and ask them to opt in so that I can see what products recently caught their eye as well.  Sure, you can see some of this via other networks like Facebook, but I'd prefer a service that's dedicated exclusively to ebooks; there's too much other noise from broad social networks and I believe an ebook-centric one would be very popular.


Doug Lance

You're completely right.

Unfortunately, the B&N Nook is the only platform with in-store integration.

Emma Cunningham

I generally consider it rude if someone shops in a store and wastes the sales staff's time if the intention has always been to purchase elsewhere. You can easily do your browsing online. I don't know that apps should be created to help that.

I DO like the idea of being sneaky and photographing people's books on the subway, but...I don't want to scare people into thinking I'm creepy, either.


I just love being able to send samples. It's so much nicer than a bookmark or scribbled note (or even adding something to a wishlist).

But image recognition would be very cool - like those apps that recognize songs on the radio.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)