Thursday, July 9, 2009

Misc Topics - Textbooks, Taxonomies, Barnes and Noble

Seth Godin on Textbooks
"Seth's Blog: Textbook rant" -
A textbook author in Toronto made enough money from his calculus textbook to afford a $20 million house. This is absurd on its face. There's no serious insight or leap in pedagogy involved in writing a standard textbook. That's what makes it standard. It's hard, but it shouldn't make you a millionaire.

This industry deserves to die. It has extracted too much time and too much money and wasted too much potential. We can do better. A lot better.
As an aside, the Indian, low-priced, edition of Kotler's Principles of Marketing sells for some 85% less than its US edition price.

Amazon Categorization
I do not understand how does its taxonomy for books. Some categorizations just don't make any sense, and in some cases are just plain wrong.

Take a look at their books section, and browse to the section named 'Algorithms', or follow this path to get there: Any Category > Books > Computers & Internet > Programming > Algorithms. What you will find is that 6 of the top 7 bestselling books on ALGORITHMS are on Photoshop!!! While I am sure that Photoshop has many complicated algorithms that it uses, as it would need to, doing as it does are pretty amazing stuff with photographs, I don't think this is quite what a customer has in mind. In fact, the first book to have the word "algorithms" in its title is "Introduction to Algorithms", at #22.

Go figure.

Barnes and Noble Newsletter

Smart on the part of Barnes and Noble - to provide customers with the option of purchasing online or at a BN store and get the same discount.
You can use this link to get to the coupon page and print the coupons, one or all:

If you can get people to try your product, maybe they will use it on a regular basis, and if they do so, maybe they will become regular customers. To incentivize customers, and to provide that slight 'nudge', an offer of a free Starbucks coffee at a BN store location is also thrown in.
Given that the app is free, and there is no purchase necessary to get the one "non-customized tall-sized Starbucks® freshly brewed coffee (hot or cold)", this is a bold and slightly desperate move, eh? Maybe not. Because, the offer is open to only Starbucks locations INSIDE Barnes and Noble stores. So, you already have the customer INSIDE the store. If he wants a free coffee, he has to download the app, and if he intends drinking that coffee inside the store, maybe he will check out the app while sipping his cuppa, find something that he likes, likes the discount offered, and use that to get the book from the store, right there and then. Assuming, of course, that the book is available in the store.

You have to show the cafe rep the app running on the iPhone though :-) Provided the BN Apple iPhone app has a decent interface and runs fast enough, this is, me thinks, a smart move.

Browse to to get more information on the app.

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.