The Sony Reader Store obviously has new management and the company has been working very hard lately to add new features to its online bookstore. Recently they have added Discover Map and a revised UK store, with tons of features. Sony, is forming a partnership with iDreambooks to tap into their wellspring of ratings and critic reviews.
Kobo and Sony both relied on the GoodReads API to tap into their extensive user reviews and ratings for their eBooks. When Amazon purchased GoodReads a few weeks ago, it put the stores in a uncomfortable position. It is only a matter of time before the public API is pulled and online bookstores will have to either develop their own review system or partner with existing companies. Sony decided to do business with idreambooks, which could be compared to Rotten Tomatoes. The company aggregates critic reviews and provides recommendations based on them.
idreambooks was originally founded in March 2012 and launched in July. Their business model centers around the aggregation of literary reviews from publications like the NYTimes and Washington Post and recommends books that were given a positive rating by 70% of critics. It functions a bit like RottenTomatoes or Metacritic in terms of eBooks and mainly focuses on bestsellers or perennial favorites. Currently the company is adding reviews from all top-tier publications going as far back as 2008 in the next couple of weeks. They have thousands available right now, and tend to add more every day.
We spoke to a idreambooks spokesman to get a sense on what the deal was about. He said “If you look at the twitter account of NYTimes books, it has around 700k followers and NPR books has round 100k followers. People care about what experts think about new books that are coming out. It is because of this Sony wants to use our ratings and reviews. We don’t have 100% coverage for all the books Sony has in it’s eBook store simply because bestsellers, books from big publishers….or the ‘head’ so to speak…is what gets reviewed in major publications. That’s what we have coverage for and we are expanding coverage for the head as well. They want to use our ratings and reviews to drive book discovery and enhance user experience.”
There is no release date in mind, but the deal should be officially announced at the end of the week. I applaud Sony for redoubling their efforts on their Reader Store. There was a time, not too long ago, where their online presence was very stagnant, and they lagged behind every other major company, in terms of innovation. It seems like in the last few months, they have been introducing a copious amount of new enhancements to their site. Currently, Sony is working on the PRS-T3, which should be announced within the next month.