I had the pleasure of meeting three of the employees of Zola Books, a new ebookstore, at BEA. Zola Books is, according to their pamphlet, “not just an eBooks retailer, but a community and a platform for everyone who participates in the conversation around books–including authors and curators, independent bookstores and publishers.”
Zola believes deeply in the power of curated content. The website is in beta, but they have and are actively recruiting book bloggers and reviewers, booksellers, and other experts of content to be curators on their site.
I was able to talk to Sharon, curator liaison, Phil, reviewer liaison, and DongWon, director of content. They walked me through all the features of the site. Basically, users will be able to follower curators they trust, and receive book recommendations from them. Each users page will be tailored to their tastes, and they will have the option of buying their books through Zola.
Curators will be rewarded by receiving income each time someone buys a book from their lists. They will also be able to build a platform for themselves and increase traffic to their own sites or blogs. If they are hosting events (such as an author reading), they can also list them on their pages.
A lot of Zola relies on social networks. The company has built algorithms, called the Curation Engine, that takes into account a user’s social network as well as curator’s opinions. Users can link their social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to their Zola account. Based on a users interests, taken from social sites they link to, Zola can suggest both books to buy and curators to follow. Users can also easily add content to their Zola pages. If linked, posts on Facebook and Twitter will automatically be added to Zola. This means people can share articles, quotes, and other activities on the site.
There are already a lot of platforms out there that people can use, and Zola seems to aim to be a secondary, easy-to-use platform. It combines everything from existing platforms and makes it easy for new users to use. It’ll be interesting to see just exactly how this all plays out. I’ll keep you posted once I get to try out the site, but in the mean time you can read more details abut Zola, including how they just raised $1 million, at Techcrunch.