An Oct. 4, 1999 article by Malcolm Gladwell in the describes a new and potentially revolutionary way for readers to find books that fit their tastes. Simplified, it involves "educating" a computerized database as to what titles the reader has liked in the past, matching that list with those of other readers, and recommending new books on the principle that if two people agree about ten books, they're likely to agree on the eleventh. This is, essentially, what like-minded readers do when they talk to each other about books. Computerizing the process makes it easier for readers to find a "community" that shares their tastes and interests and makes for a powerful selling tool for online booksellers such as Amazon.
Whatever Wall Street's ultimate verdict on Amazon, it is clear that the host of customer conveniences and services offered by it and other online retailers--such as collaborative filtering, searchable databases, and customer reviews--are extremely popular, and probably here to stay. There is no reason to doubt that online booksellers will continue to take more and more business away from traditional booksellers for the foreseeable future.
The big online booksellers have access to multiple databases (such as Ingram's and R.R. Bowker's ) that allow them to locate and sell virtually any book in print, and thousands more that are out of print. They are also constantly building their own databases. Thus, publishers usually need not do anything special to make their books available. Making them prominent is another matter.
The Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) is dedicated to maintaining and enforcing high ethical and professional standards for our member booksellers, including a Code Of Ethics and promotion of trust between customers and booksellers by providing a safe online environment for the purchase and sale of books. To find out more about IOBA visit their website at .