Utne Blogs > Literature

The Bookstore Experience: Now Available Online

 by Julie Hanus

Tags: books and publishers, Zoomii, Amazon.com, bookstores, shopping, online retail, Chris Jordan, Chris Thiessen,

Brick-and-mortar bookstores, take note. The next hurdle to your continued existence has arrived, and it’s called Zoomii. Perhaps a bit cute of a name for a nemesis, but don’t underestimate its powers: Zoomii is a website that approximates the browsing experience for the online shopper—synching up its virtual shelves with Amazon.com’s selection.

Zoomii’s shelves—or bays, as they’re called in the biz—hold over 20,000 books, which are displayed as cover images. Zoomed all the way out, the array looks like something Chris Jordan cooked up, but a spin of the mouse wheel pulls you in on a particular shelf for high resolution browsing. See a book you like, click on it, and all the information you’d find on Amazon pops up. The search function displays results as cover images too, culling from a bank of 170,000 titles.

I’m a fan of real-life bookstores, and here at Utne we’re well aware of their struggles and victories in adapting to an online-retail-driven world. While Zoomii doesn’t offer the smell, feel, or chance to crack a book open (yet?), I can’t say it’s not bittersweet to report on a website that cuts into browsing as an exclusive perk of the bookstore experience. That said, it’s darn near impossible not to marvel at developer Chris Thiessen’s ingenuity. Zoomii is nothing more than a portal. All of the actual shopping is done through Amazon, and Thiessen gets a percentage cut as a member of the Associates Program.

Check out Zoomii here:

(Thanks, A Public Space.)