Thursday, December 01, 2005

BookBurro - tough times ahead for Amazon.com?

BookBurro is a smart Firefox plug-in created by Jesse Andrews that lets you find the best book deals while you shop. When you're looking at a book page on a site like Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com, a little window magically appears and tells you the prices for that particular book from about 10 online bookstores. Comparing book prices doesn't get much easier or more convenient than this!

At first sight, one could think that a tool like this must cause considerable headaches to Amazon.com. After all it allows customers to use Amazon.com's unbeaten site for browsing but proceed to another retailer to make the purchase with literally one mouse click. While comparison shopping sites like Shopping.com and Shopzilla are very popular and while I think they do contribute to limiting the pricing power of brand name online shops, the value of Amazon.com's brand shouldn't be underestimated.

During the first wave of comparison shopping engines from 1998-1999, some analysts predicted that online retailers would never be able to make a decent profit because the radical removement of friction would effectively turn online shopping into a commodity market. They underestimated people's deep desire for convenience and the level of trust associated with Amazon.com.

As far as BookBurro is concerned, it's interesting to note that the concept of on-the-fly price comparison has been around for years but never really took off. I know what I'm talking about, as my startup DealPilot.com launched a similar product, a browser companion toolbar called DealPilot Express, back in 1999. It never became as successful as the website, so Shopping.com (which acquired DealPilot.com) buried it after a while. RUSure, ClickTheButton and all other competitors of us from that time met the same fate.

BookBurro is easy to install, unobtrusive and seems to work very well. It's definitely better than the first breed of such tools. It'll be interesting to see if they have success.

Thanks to Library Stuff for the pointer.

2 comments:

Florian Dargel said...

I have used www.Pricenoia.com to good effect for comparing amazon prices internationally - very handy if you are in europe.

Christoph Janz said...

Thanks for the pointer. Seems like a useful site. I often compared prices from Amazon UK, US and DE myself when buying an English book.