Friday, 30 May 2008

BookRabbit again

Last month I mentioned BookRabbit - a new UK-based online bookshop/readers' networking site. At the time I had a few reservations and although I found aspects of it appealing I wasn't convinced that it was 100% 'for me'.

Well, is fully up and running now. I have placed my initial order and received it very speedily and I must say I'm rapidly turning into one of those madly proselytising new converts.

Taking advantage of BookRabbit's introductory free book offer on initial orders placed before 28 May, I tried out the system by ordering Emma Darwin's The Mathematics of Love and Hugo Hamilton'sThe Speckled People. Finding them was easy. Ordering them was easy (there's a PayPal option in addition to all the usual credit and debit cards). Delivery, which is free, took two working days. My freebie - a lucky-dip selected by BookRabbit on the (as yet scant) evidence of my literary tastes - was Ali Smith's The Accidental, which I'm very pleased with. The freebie arrived ahead of the others, the day after I'd placed my order.

Every week, BookRabbit compares the 100,000 top-selling titles against Amazon UK to ensure that BookRabbit's prices are cheaper. With no postage to pay, and no minimum order, this is very good news for buyers (and bad news for bank balances, as it certainly encourages the instant, impulse purchase - as if that weren't already temptation enough on Amazon).

As for the networking aspect, that's entirely up to the individual. You can interact as much or as little as you wish. Nothing about it is mandatory. You have the option, on every book you browse, to add it not only to your shopping basket but also to your 'wish list' (which is publicly viewable) or to your 'my books' list, which gradually builds up a picture of your reading habits and home library.

You can also upload photos of your bookshelves. I didn't think I'd bother with this but have posted a couple just for fun. You can start a discussion of any bookish topic you wish, and others will join in - it's all incredibly easy and could quickly become addictive. Your profile can link in to your blog, so the more you interact on BookRabbit, the more readers will land on your blog. I imagine that the discussion boards would also be an extremely good way for authors to reach and interact with existing and potential readers.

I've seen a few comments in the bookblogosphere saying that BookRabbit all looks terrifically complicated and scary, but believe me, if I can get the hang of it in less than half an hour, then anyone can! Its beauty lies in its basic simplicity and ease of use, while its advantage over conventional online bookshops is its almost limitless potential for personalised use. It can be whatever you want it to be.

And for those who don't want to be bothered to manage their own blog, it gives access to a whole cyberworld of readers who will be happy to share their thoughts on books and reading. But you remain in control. Nobody else can see what you order. Nobody can become your online 'friend' if you don't want them to. You don't have to think of anything to say or find anyone to say it to if you don't wish. It is perfectly possible to be a 'silent' member, ordering books and reading other people's discussions without any pressure to interact at all.

In full missionary zeal mode, I'm now linking to BookRabbit every time I mention a book here. I'm also looking forward to seeing their forthcoming range of blog-compatible widgets (not sure exactly when those will be available). There's lots of advice on the site to help get you started, including video demonstrations of each feature. And you can keep up to date with news and developments on the BlogRabbit blog.

Go on. Give it a whirl. You know you want to!


Sam Norton said...

It looks really interesting, but do you have to add in details when you put photos of your bookshelves on? If they do the classifying/categorising automatically then that would be quite an incentive to join up. I've been meaning to rationalise my bookshelves ever since I moved into this new home (five years ago) but I still haven't got round to it...

Juliet said...

At present you highlight each spine with a special tool and then you can link it to the book (I haven't bothered with mine yet, and I'm not altogether sure that I will). The plan is that at some point in the future this will happen automatically. Ditto re rationalising bookshelves here. The ones I uploaded to BookRabbit were actually views of recent additionsi to the TBR pile. Not many of my real-life bookshelve would stand up to public scrutiny!

oxford-reader said...

What with this, Abe books, and read life second hand book shops, my bank balance is going to be an awful mess!
I've got such a huge TBR pile, that I really shouldn't buy any more, but I've got a Daphne obsession going on, and I think I'm about to go the same way with Sebastian Barry. I need funding, because I'm sure I can make a career out of book buying.
Thing is, I need Mr Darcy's library to accomodate everything!

Peta said...

I set up an account last week and uploaded photos of one of my bookcases. I then spent the next few hours tagging the titles as I am a dreadful "finisher" and can't bear to leave a job half done. I've resisted uploading any of the other far!

I'd not realised that there was no minimum order amount. Oh dear - this could be dangerous.

60 Going On 16 said...

Like you, Juliet, I have really warmed to BookRabbit, not least because they are putting so much effort into good customer service. Very impressed with delivery - my first books arrived this week (and my free copy of The Accidental!)

Would love to hear what you think of the Emma Darwin and the Hugo Hamilton, once you've read them; we can exchange views on or off blog - as you please!

Juliet said...

o-r - Plus today's equivalent of Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year might come in handy! (re which - see here for an estimate of his wealth in today's terms. No wonder Elizabeth was enchanted!!)

peta - no minimum order - just click 'buy' and it's free postage and fast delivery. Oh dear, oh dear, this is going to be very dangerous for many of us, I fear!

D - Ahah! You got The Accidental too, did you? Three explanations spring to mind: (a) pure coincidence; (b) you and I have very similar literary tastes (entirely possible, or even probable); (c) someone has an overstock they need to shift! I vote we assume it's (b) unless we discover evidence to the contrary.

I bought the Darwin because I've been enjoying Emma's blog, and the Speckled People was highly recommended by a friend. I'll doubtless let you and the rest of the world know what I thought when I've read them. Have you read either of them?

60 Going On 16 said...

Yes - both read, J. And Emma's blog is excellent, a proper writer's blog!

Sarah Prior said...

Hi Juliet, thanks for your support of I just wanted to let you know that the site will be relaunching shortly so please keep an eye on our blog at and spread the word! Best wishes, Sarah