AE Monthly

Articles - April - 2008 Issue

A Facelift For Biblio

Ap08biblio

Biblio, the old (left) and the new.


By Michael Stillman

Biblio recently put its website through a facelift. The third largest, and youngest of the major bookselling sites has regularly made a point of pushing forward aggressively to make up for lost time. This latest change is designed to move them somewhat away from the industry standard, Amazon inspired highly functional, but cluttered, not artistic, and somewhat confusing home page. To see the changes in Biblio, click the thumbnail image to the left.

The new home page features an image taken from an antiquarian or other significant book, a larger search box with a dark background so as to stand out more, and links that are only seen by scroll over to reduce the visible clutter. Biblio describes the design as "simple and uncluttered," and appropriate for their customers who "know what they want and prefer an experience which helps them in their search, rather than distracts or presents obstacles."

What Biblio is confronting is an issue that most websites offering numerous products or services face -- how do you make everything visible without creating such a jumbled mess that nothing is visible? Amazon is a wonderful site, but I will admit that there are times when I have no idea where to find things I know are there. Fortunately, Biblio's target is more focused -- books. This recent change may not be earth shattering, but it does make the site cleaner and a little easier to understand, and anything that makes life easier is an improvement.

At the same time, Biblio announced some technological improvements in site function, and we will have to take them at their word since there is no way for us to comparison test it with the older version. Biblio has gone with open source search software from the Apache Software Foundation. The particular program is called Lucene, and Biblio reports that it provides faster searches and better matches than they were able to offer before. This too is a major challenge as Biblio has grown to list 50 million books, yet customers still expect to see their matches within no more than few seconds.

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