Lack Of Metadata Makes iBookstore Less Useful

We know we've got a month or so to wait before the iPad officially appears in Australia, we know local carriers will offer plans at unspecified prices, and we know iBooks won't initially be sold through the Australian operation. However, that might not be such a loss, given that Apple's bookstore uses the same broad categorisation scheme it applies to its other online retailing operations.

At Salon, Laura Miller points out that the lack of metadata for most book titles — beyond really broad categories like 'Mystery' — mean that iBooks can't make sensible recommendations or even expose the full scope of titles it has on offer:

In the App Store, you always seem to have either too few options to choose from or too many. Now imagine this annoying experience translated to books, a medium that, for sheer volume and diversity, utterly dwarfs the universe of apps. Almost half a million new titles are published every year, most of them appealing to microscopically distinct interests. The prospect of shopping for books using iBooks, which essentially applies the maddeningly blunt tools of iTunes to a collection of some 30,000 idiosyncratic titles (even more will be added later), is like being asked to dismantle a wristwatch with a butter knife.

In this respect, Miller argues Amazon has a much better approach, allowing both more nuanced categorisation and — more importantly — a much higher volume of links to recommendations from other readers.

Do you like getting book recommendations while you buy, or is your to-read list already so long that it doesn't matter? Tell us in the comments.

What Apple needs to learn about selling books [Salon]


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