Shelfari: Social Bookshelving

February 27th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Recently invested in by Amazon, Shelfari is the talk of the town. Books have always been an interest niche for millions of people. With the internet making people of common interests interact with each other though social networks, books have their own networks as well.

Along with LibraryThing and Delicious Library, Shelfari is a social network for book loving people who want to share their interests with people who feel the same. Like any other social network, users create their own profiles showing the world who and what they are. Aside from just profiles, users make a “shelf”, a showcase of books that they have, want to have or are just interested in. It works like a social bookmarking or a social shopping site, users discuss what they are interested in and build communities. for Shelfari, users with common interests can come together and build book clubs, just like in the time when books were more interesting than the radio or television.

Interacting within the social network is basic. Shelfari features a widget that's easy to embed in a blog. Shelves in Shelfari can be exported as a widget and embedded in blogs and websites. On the user's end this is all for show but on the company's end, here's where they generate income. As mentioned, Shelfari got an investment from Amazon. Of course, Amazon got a partner to market their books. All books on Shelfari are for sale through Each book displayed on a shelf or widget has a button “Buy on Amazon.”

The widget poses a problem though (one that can be resolved with good marketing and packaging), with Shelfari's exclusive partnership with Amazon, bloggers who are running their own Amazon affiliate links will be giving up their potential earnings with the use of Shelfari widgets because buyers will now be bypassing the blogger. I guess Shelfari should implement some competitive incentive for users whenever a book is sold through a widget or shelf. Social shopping networks are already doing this so it should not be much of a problem for Shelfari.

All in all, Shelfari is a great Web2.0 experience. It integrates social, commerce, and widgets all in an seamless environment which is becoming the trend for the Web2.0 and possibly 3.0 scenario. Furthermore, with Amazon's investment, Shelfari's credibility and stickiness is safe.