Commercial approaches of shelf-related user interfaces
While writing my master thesis about an digital but reality-based interface to library collections (Blended Shelf), I did an extensive research of related work. In the following posts I give an quick overview over products, concepts and prototypes which somehow integrate shelves into their user interface.
The lists are not final and I sure have missed some approaches, so I’ll update the posts if I’ll stumble upon other interfaces. If you know about shelf-related interfaces which are not listed here, please let me know by contacting me or simply leave a comment.
I categorized the different approaches into three groups. The categories may be ambiguous and the single approaches may overlap, but until now I haven’t found a better way to cluster the various approaches:
- Commercial: This categorie assembles applications and interfaces which were or still are commercially available for end users or institutions other than libraries.
- Scientific: For items in this categoriy libraries are only a use case to explore some concepts. Mostly the prototypes where not actually used in libraries except for research studies.
- Library-specific: Here I collect all approaches which focus on serving libraries and their users. This products could be the result of commercial development, library in-house development or of scientific approaches.
Today I start the series with the commercial products. Posts about the library-specific and scientific approaches will follow soon.
Shelfari is an Amazon subsidiary and represents one of many social cataloging applications (Wikipedia). Users could catalog, recommend and share their personal book collections. Shelfari uses a virtual shelf to represent the collections to users. Other social cataloging applications like Goodreads or Google Books also uses shelf visualizations to represent collections of books.
The social cataloging application BookRabbit makes use of shelves in a different way. Users could upload photographs from their book shelves at home. Afterwards the books could be tagged and linked against metadata records describing the works. This approach links the real shelf of the user to all the advantages of the digital application.
Zoomii Books is the work of the Canadian developer Chris Thiessen who passed away in 2010. The application is not online anymore. Zoomii is a zooming user interface (Wikipedia) and acts as a digital browsing system for Amazon’s book collection. Chris himself described the system as an
“online visual bookstore which replicates the browsing goodness of real bookstores.”
Zoomii Books displays not only the cover images but also the actual sizes of the books. For more detailed descriptions of Zoomii Books read the articles by ars technica and readwrite or watch the video tour on YouTube.
iBooks is Apple’s application to read and buy e-books and PDF files on iOS-Devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch). iBooks focus is on reading, not on searching or administrating book collections. It uses a shelf visualization to represent the items with their cover images. Users could rearrange the items inside the shelf and switch to a list view.
Delicious Library is a media cataloging software for Mac OS X to support users with managing their physiscal media collections. It earned various awards for its design (Wikipedia) and it is discussed that Apple copied the design for its iBooks application.
TouchMe from the German book marketing company Midvox is a presentation software for bookshops, sales representatives and publishing houses. Its main purpose is the representation of book collections on fairs, trading presentations and congresses. TouchMe offers a nice shelf visualization and also allows users the browsing inside the books. To my current knowledge it is not in use by libraries or end users.
adiVerse is an joint effort of Adidas and Intel. Although it has nothing to do with books or book shelves, it is an impressive and consequent implementation of reality-based product presentation. Intel describes adiVerse as
“a virtual footwear wall, [which] gives in-store shoppers access to expanded online inventory via a digital display to select items on a virtual shelf, view it in 3D detail, get more product information, and make a purchase.”
See adiVerse in action on Youtube.