Zoomii, launched last week, is a virtual bookstore that displays books from Amazon.
The site is built on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud and uses the Amazon S3 hosted storage service. Buyers are directed to the online retail giant via an affiliate link.
Zoomii, currently available in North America only, presents a visual alternative to browsing for books on Amazon, presenting around 20,000 titles to look through:
The site is interesting because it aims to reproduce a bookshop online – books are organised into shelves and displayed in different sections, and A to Z by author as they would be offline.
Shoppers can browse through the site using the mouse, or the controls on the top left of the screen, and zoom in and out using the mouse wheel.
When you have found a title that catches your eye, you can zoom in and click on the cover for more details about the book:
These product pages display basic details about the price as well as a description of the book. It also displays the average review rating from Amazon, which is useful.
To read reviews, or to find further information on the book or delivery charges, customers need to click through to Amazon.
There are a lot of books to browse through so, if you need some help narrowing your selection, then you can navigate according to various categories of books:
The site also has a search box if you want a particular book or author, though users could do with some help narrowing their choices.
For instance, you can select the history category, but this is as far as it goes and you are unable to drill down into sub categories, ancient history, military history etc.
Despite these drawbacks, the team behind Zoomii has created a very good site, which offers a more attractive alternative to browsing through Amazon’s book section.
It manages to do visual book browsing in a much more useful way than Borders.com’s recently launched website, with its ‘Magic Shelf’ function.
In the case of the Magic Shelf, only a very small selection of titles is displayed, and slows down the loading time of the homepage. Zoomii was a little bit too slow on Firefox 3.0, but this is something that should be fixed soon, and it worked fine on IE7.
I’d prefer to have a few more search and filtering options so I don’t have to search through too many titles, but Zoomii has still done an excellent job of creating a virtual bookstore.