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bobstro
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

bklvr896 wrote:

[...] I wish the shelving was better, way better than it is.  

 

Sorting is one aspect of shelving, but the biggest problem I had is how cumbersome it is to tag and shelve even a modest collection of 100 titles.

 

But as I was adding books to Calibre this morning, and I noticed the metadata I had this thought.  For some of the issues, such as sorting series books in order, it seems as though the first step is that there needs to be some standards and consistency set up for the metadata.

 

Even if the ebook metadata is consistent, B&N doesn't seem to provide any way to use it. Other ebook readers (e.g. Mantano) do allow sorting by series data. If it's there, you can use it. There are also sort options not based on metadata, such as books without collections (shelves), recently read, unread, annotated, shared and favorites.

 

If trying to design the ultimate device for readers, how those readers want to sort and find their books would be something to focus on.

 

BN and the other retailers can't and shouldn't be altering the metadata.  First and foremost, they don't have the resources and shouldn't be expected to.

 

There are plenty of sorting options that aren't dependent on metadata accuracy (addition date, last read), and while B&N can't modify the metadata of DRM-encumbered ebooks directly, they already track things like reading position separately. Some additional sort and shelving options wouldn't require modifying the epubs directly.

 

The publishers should set up standards so there is consistency in the metadata, which could then be used for sorting and shelving options, because without consistency, there is no way the software can be programmed.

 

Agreed that the publishers should get on top of this. They're also very sloppy with things like cover images. However, there's not reason a few more user-customizable sorting and shelving options can't be provided in the meantime.

 

While the results Calibre finds may not always match between titles, you at least have the option of overriding that data and "fixing" it to suit your needs. Calibre also allows pulling of metadata from preferred sources, so instead of using individual publisher-provided metadata, you can opt to use another single source for (better) consistency.

 

[...] I agree there are some areas that BN could and should improve, even with the existing inconsistencies in the metadata, but other areas, the publishers need to make changes, then BN the retailers could use that to make shelving and organizing our books easier and more efficient.

 

I was surprised at how sloppy the publishers, what with their years of experience ensuring quality and so on, are when it comes to ebooks. Still, we could use a few simple on-device sort capabilities, even if only a manual sort option.

 

BN is certainly lacking in some areas of shelving, but blaming BN for the series number being at the end of the title, that's a publisher issue and needs to be addressed to and by the publishers.

 

It should be addressed by publishers, true, but there are things that can be done to make the paying customer's experience better.

 

In the meantime, Calibre does provide the means to use existant metadata to add series info to epub book filenames if anybody does want to do so. If you're fighting with DRM, your options will be limited, unfortunately.

 

 

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TnTexas
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

keriflur: I'm not a Narnia person, but if you know the order they were written in, reading them in that order would likely give you the best experience.

 

This is how I've always felt about the series; I have no idea why the publisher decided to change the order. The opening paragraph of The Magician's Nephew is: This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story show because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began. I suppose that underlined part works ok as an introduction to the series; but for me, it's richer and holds a lot more meaning if it's the introduction to the fifth book of the series instead of the first. Plus you lose a bit of the mystery and wonder and magic you feel as you discover Narnia with Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if TLTWTW is the second book you read instead of the first.

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frantastk
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

I've always read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first. However, I read something written by C.S. Lewis when I was in high school. I can't remember what it was. It may have been a introduction or foreward to one of my editions (I no longer have the books so I can't check) or an old interview. He said he recommended starting with The Magician's Nephew. I can't seem to remember his reasoning, it just stuck in my mind as odd that the author would recommend reading them out of written order. 

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TnTexas
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

[ Edited ]

frantastik: I've always read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first. However, I read something written by C.S. Lewis when I was in high school. I can't remember what it was. It may have been a introduction or foreward to one of my editions (I no longer have the books so I can't check) or an old interview. He said he recommended starting with The Magician's Nephew. I can't seem to remember his reasoning, it just stuck in my mind as odd that the author would recommend reading them out of written order.

 

And I heard a little girl wrote him one time asking him if it would be ok to read TMN first, and he said it would. I don't remember ever hearing that that was his preferred order for reading them - just that he gave an affirmative answer to that one question. Now I'm curious. I'll have to go see what Google has to say on the subject.

 

ETA: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chronicles_of_Narnia#Reading_order) quotes the letter I mentioned. The child and his mother were apparently arguing over the best order for the books, and Lewis answered that tended to agree with the child who felt the chronological order was the best way to read the books. Many scholars argue that Lewis was simply being kind to the child since he never took steps to reorder the books during his lifetime.

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keriflur
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion


TnTexas wrote:
Plus you lose a bit of the mystery and wonder and magic you feel as you discover Narnia with Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if TLTWTW is the second book you read instead of the first.

This.

 

There's a reason it feels this way.  I'm sure, somewhere, there is an author who discovers and documents every single aspect and event of a world and a series before ever writing a word, and can write everything in any order, and never does any revisions because they never learn anything new in the process.  BUT, 99.99999% of authors discover as they write and/or as they plan a book, and each book brings new discoveries about the world, the characters, etc.  Lucy's discoveries feel the way they do in part because they were Lewis's discoveries too - he discovered the world along with Lucy, just as the reader does.  And he likely discovered new things about the world and the characters with each new book he wrote.

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MacMcK1957
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

I think when he started mapping out The Last Battle he realized that he needed a bunch of concepts (neighboring countries, established human populations, a competing deity) that he had not included in the first four books, so he added these two backdated stories to introduce them.  Because they were designed to plug into the fictional universe he had already created, they are better read when you are already familiar with that universe.  The end of Magician's Nephew is much better when you receive the revelation of who Digory turns out to be, and how the story leads to the later events, including the creation of the wardrobe itself.

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

I think what we can conclude from this is that our prefered outcome is B&N allowing for sorting by additional metadata fields, and allowing us to in some way edit those fields.

 

It would be great if the publishers got together and created standards, but clearly giving them full control can lead to issues like the Narnia one.  And while Bobstro has a good point about other methods of sorting, I think metadata would be the best method. 

 

Of course even though I'm putting the pressure on B&N to implement other sorting options, there should be pressure on the publishers to either remove DRM or to enable B&N to edit the metadata either through the Nook, or through the Nook for  Mac/PC app when your Nook is connected.  Yes it would be frustrating if you needed to reload your books, maybe there could be a backup of the information stored in the Nook app, or with the personal 'cloud' that FT mentioned as being in the works.

 

 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.
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MacMcK1957
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

It wouldn't require removing the DRM.  If you unzip a DRM'ed epub file you'll find the metadata (the OPF component) is not encrypted.  You would just have to come up with some scheme to allow the user to edit that metadata. 

 

Of course, then the user would want those edits to be saved, and ported to multiple devices, which opens up a bigger can of worms.

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keriflur
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion


Mercury_Glitch wrote:

I think what we can conclude from this is that our prefered outcome is B&N allowing for sorting by additional metadata fields, and allowing us to in some way edit those fields.

 

It would be great if the publishers got together and created standards, but clearly giving them full control can lead to issues like the Narnia one.  And while Bobstro has a good point about other methods of sorting, I think metadata would be the best method. 

 

Of course even though I'm putting the pressure on B&N to implement other sorting options, there should be pressure on the publishers to either remove DRM or to enable B&N to edit the metadata either through the Nook, or through the Nook for  Mac/PC app when your Nook is connected.  Yes it would be frustrating if you needed to reload your books, maybe there could be a backup of the information stored in the Nook app, or with the personal 'cloud' that FT mentioned as being in the works.

 


B&N could implement user-defined sort without metadata changes - by implementing more library controls.  For instance, B&N already tracks the date the book was last touched.  Why not track other things too, like where in the order the user places the book on a shelf (i.e. position)?  As I mentioned above, Goodreads does it.  I'm constantly rearranging my GR "to read" shelf based on what I want to read next.  New books automatically go at the bottom, but I can give them another position but typing in a position number (another option is to move the covers around on the screen).  By storing this info, I can shelve as I like, then select an option to auto-rearrange by last read, or by title, author, rating, pub date, whatever I want, then go back to my position sort at any time.

 

Also, the nook has the metadata and library info of each and every book we load onto our nooks.  B&N could offer an option for cloud library controls, sending that metadata and the library data back to the mothership and displaying it in an interface for the user, allowing the user to control the library via a web interface for ALL books, not just B&N books.

 

They could also have a separate library field for title, and they could autopopulate it with the title of the book from the metadata, but allow the user to change the title library field, so that the book displays with whatever title the user wants.  Same with author.  Since these fields would be part of the library data there'd be no need to touch the metadata.

 

Everything that folks are asking for is doable without the pubs doing anything, with the current DRM schemes, etc.  B&N just needs to build it.

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bklvr896
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

 


B&N could implement user-defined sort without metadata changes - by implementing more library controls.  For instance, B&N already tracks the date the book was last touched.  Why not track other things too, like where in the order the user places the book on a shelf (i.e. position)?  As I mentioned above, Goodreads does it.  I'm constantly rearranging my GR "to read" shelf based on what I want to read next.  New books automatically go at the bottom, but I can give them another position but typing in a position number (another option is to move the covers around on the screen).  By storing this info, I can shelve as I like, then select an option to auto-rearrange by last read, or by title, author, rating, pub date, whatever I want, then go back to my position sort at any time.

 

Also, the nook has the metadata and library info of each and every book we load onto our nooks.  B&N could offer an option for cloud library controls, sending that metadata and the library data back to the mothership and displaying it in an interface for the user, allowing the user to control the library via a web interface for ALL books, not just B&N books.

 

They could also have a separate library field for title, and they could autopopulate it with the title of the book from the metadata, but allow the user to change the title library field, so that the book displays with whatever title the user wants.  Same with author.  Since these fields would be part of the library data there'd be no need to touch the metadata.

 

Everything that folks are asking for is doable without the pubs doing anything, with the current DRM schemes, etc.  B&N just needs to build it.


What is BN incentive to build it?  Does the average user of the device even care?  Would this be a good selling feature, you can sort and organize your library based on your personal preferences.  I think the challenge is getting BN to believe that this is something that would make the Nook to stand out against the competition.  I think it would, but I admit I'm not a typical user.

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bobstro
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

bklvr896 wrote: 
[...] What is BN incentive to build it?
For now, product differentiation. The NGL hasn't exactly blown the doors off the competition in terms of innovation. It's a nice enough device, but it seems to have been designed to meet a minimal set of specifications rather than beating the competition in any significant area. B&N, Kobo and Amazon all provide a pretty similar set of basic reader features now. Amazon and Kobo seem intent on providing new capabilities (e.g. Kobo's sync with Pocket).
Does the average user of the device even care?
The ones that don't care will buy any device. What B&N can do is attract a core of dedicated readers who purchase large numbers of ebooks, and for whom this sort of feature would make a real difference. Those people actively seeking out an eInk reader rather than a 7 inch LCD tablet for ~$50 more are likely to care about this sort of thing.
Would this be a good selling feature, you can sort and organize your library based on your personal preferences.
It's probably more important for people buying their second reader rather than their first. Then again, with the number of tablets and readers already sold, perhaps that's a demographic to focus on. I certainly can't think how it would be a bad thing. In general, there's a lot of room for improvement in  readers and on-device library management. Somebody will surely catch on to this, and B&N will find themselves trying to respond reactively. Why not pull ahead on something for once? Does B&N want to get stuck with the "worst library management" label?
I think the challenge is getting BN to believe that this is something that would make the Nook to stand out against the competition.  I think it would, but I admit I'm not a typical user.
I don't think it would be a stellar feature all by itself, but there's a lot of room for improvement. It would be nice if reviews at least emphasized that B&N is focused on the needs of readers, rather than putting out an also-ran device.
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keriflur
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion


bklvr896 wrote:

 

What is BN incentive to build it?  Does the average user of the device even care?  Would this be a good selling feature, you can sort and organize your library based on your personal preferences.  I think the challenge is getting BN to believe that this is something that would make the Nook to stand out against the competition.  I think it would, but I admit I'm not a typical user.

 


I think it would also.

 

I think the next step after web-synced library control, would be making the web-synced library social and integrating it in with reviews - share what you read, rate what you read and share that, write reviews and share those (I envision this as an option).  Basically similar to  Goodreads only specific to your collection of nook devices, INCLUDING sideloaded content.

 

I think this would overall be a huge differentiator and a big selling point.  And it may simply become a need - Amazon owns Goodreads. How long before they integrate it into the kindle?  B&N could get there first, build it better.  B&N needs differentiators.

 

And keep in mind - building the library data is not all that hard.  Making it sync is more of a challenge, given their need for better syncing infrastructure overall, but still not all that hard.  And I say that as someone who does projects like it for a living.

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laurieb52
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Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

At a minimum, B&N should make alphabetical sorting consistent across devices. They finally made sorting ignore "the" in book titles on the hd devices, but the new glows go back to sorting titles that begin with "the" as "t's".

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flyingtoastr
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion


bobstro wrote:
The ones that don't care will buy any device. What B&N can do is attract a core of dedicated readers who purchase large numbers of ebooks, and for whom this sort of feature would make a real difference. 

I will once again point out that in my four+ years selling ereaders even power buyers generally didn't care about organization beyond the "alphabetical by Title/Author" options. Anecdote =/= evidence, but we can't make generalizations without some hard numbers (and no, polling this forum is not scientifically admissible evidence).

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bobstro
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

[ Edited ]

Neither of us is going to be able to point out hard scientific research, but it should be obvious that the most recent batch of "Big 3" eInk readers are very similar. While a bit cheaper than the Kobo Aura, it lacks external storage and font customization options. While the same price as Kindle without ads, it doesn't have the deep Amazon ecosystem. B&N can't easily add external storage. B&N can't easily try (again) to build competitive infrastructure. What B&N can differentiate on is features focused on the reader. While development isn't free, it only need be done once (thereafter going into maintenance), and done correctly, can be re-used for future products.

 

I don't think simply improving shelving will make the NOOKs into a world-beater, but it would address one of the most persistent and long-standing complaints, cost relatively little, and give B&N one little thing to crow about. They should focus on other areas as well, taking a hint from Kobo on font customization, and looking at some sort of offline web sync akin to Pocket. I'm sure others can think of other areas that need improvement.

 

You may not have experienced large numbers of readers looking for such features, but ereaders are still new. As such features become commonplace, people are more likely to be aware of them and ask for them. B&N would do well to be positioned to have good answers when that happens.

 

Amazon knew to look past their casual buyers when acquiring Goodreads. Kobo knows to play nice with developers and allow external access to internal organization, making Kobo device management using Calibre very powerful, even if the "average" buyer will never use it. B&N's competition isn't standing still.

 

Clearly, B&N's hardware isn't going to advance in significant ways any time soon. Perhaps their software should?

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keriflur
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Re: Shelving Issue Discussion

No company has ever become successful by basing their business entirely on market studies. But sure, B&N can try. Or they can hire some management with passion for reading and balls, and do things that customers aren't necessarily asking for but that readers deserve. Passion for a product will build a better product than any market study can.