We received some very useful feedback from Sonali Sridhar and Matt Raoul regarding our current pitch for Booktique, the wireframes / mockups and the product we’re proposing. It gave us a lot to consider for Booktique.
As we pursue Booktique further and iterate on this feedback, we’re interested in exploring the bookstore space in new ways that promote the sense of community that would invite bookstore lovers, whether it’s through cafes, events, book clubs etc. while incorporating technology to do so. iPads being used for checkout in small, cosy, independent coffeeshops in Brooklyn are a great precedent for ways in which independent entrepreneurs are utilizing technology towards a more efficient business experience and also to connect better with their user base who instantly feels connected to the iPad experience. This in turn lets the consumer believe that the business understands them. We need to bring a similar sense to the bookstore experience. We’re bringing back people, technology, and generally a more relatable experience to the bookstore so it fits better with the things that consumers are used to - iPads, social networks, convenience and such.
Some of the questions that came up during our mid-term pitch:
Validate whether there is a market for this
What’s your content acquisition strategy?
What about books that are not available as ebooks?
What about partnerships? How do you make money?
Based on the feedback we are trying to adjust our focus a little while still staying true to our original goal of “bringing it back to the bookstore”. We are considering the social aspects of the bookstore that appealed to us and came up during the pitch as well. This includes the analog matchmaking board and the aspect of getting personalized recommendations from bookstore employees. Matchmaking based on reading interests in a hyper-local environment such as a bookstore is an interesting thing for us to dig into further. A related idea that came up had to do with the magic combo of coffeeshops and bookstores. B&N and Borders jumped on this a while ago by partnering with Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee respectively. Spoonbill bookstore in Williamsburg where we did some research also happens to have a coffeeshop (appropriately named Verb) right next door. We don’t know if this was intentional but it’s something to consider.
We are also considering how to incorporate the analog-social element to our original idea of the app. The way the app is right now it’s main function is to buy books. Based on our midterm it seems there is still a bit of a disconnect in the message we are sending - save the bookstores and the method we are using - booktique app. With the current method the question of partnerships remains unanswered. The pitch also brought up the question of revenue and whether the percentage of sales we intend to pass on to the bookstores will really be enough.
Americans weigh in on their preferences for e-books and paper books. From The Rise of E-Reading, a Pew Internet and American Life report.
We visited independent bookstores in the Brooklyn community and interviewed bookstore staff. We are primarily concerned with:
- how business has been affected by the rise of ebooks?
- the interaction of customers with physical books—how many people browse vs purchase?
- the importance of community within a bookstore
- existing partnerships with online retailers and/or ebooks
- how frequently they visit bookstores
- how often the purchase physical books, and if they do, what types of books they are (design vs. fiction etc…)
- if bookstore visitors are also avid ebook users (Kindle, iPad, etc…)
- would a ebook/bookstore partnership be an incentive to customers if they knew the bookstore was benefitting from the transaction?
We looked at published articles/research, statistics on independent bookstores, as well as existing models that are exploring the same domains as Booktique.
for eg. this article that talks about the increase in reading habits due to the presence of e-books, states that 21% of American adults report that they have read an e-book in the past year, and this article in the NY Times that discusses the struggles faced by Independent Bookstores.
Here is a timeline of our process:
We began with mapping the system:
Sketches of user scenarios:
Iterating through interactive prototypes:
- Reframing the pitch so that it centers more on maintaining community rather than saving the bookstore
Independent bookstores are being forced to be frugal and have started charging customers to attend author book reading and signing events. ”Bookstore owners say they are doing so because too many people regularly come to events having already bought a book online or planning to do so later. Consumers now see the bookstore merely as another library — a place to browse, do informal research and pick up staff recommendations.”
After beginning to wireframe Booktique, we realized it was important to consider the various points of entry by which users may engage with our service. Who might find themselves in a bookstore? How do they engage with books? How do they engage with other customers? Why a bookstore?
The following user scenarios are a first attempt at illustrating the answers to these questions.
We built a basic interactive prototype of Booktique in order to user test the scenario. This shows a simple scenario of scanning a book in the bookstore and buying it instantly. The user can also add books to their bookmarks or locate bookstores in the neighborhood. We will iterate this further and figure out the functionality and flow better through user testing this prototype.