There should really be some pretty pictures....

But instead I'm going to finish on the most wonderful piece of craft porn I think I've seen:

So I mentioned that this week whilst Tom and Phill were furiously working their magic on sensors and getting to go to Birmingham I was investigating behaviour. The logic behind this is: We want people to go on a flight of fantasy with the book, and end up getting a new book out at the library that they would never have considered before. 

To create a flight of fantasy we have to understand the behavioural decisions already being made by people. There's three aspects to this:

  • How people handle books (that's not this week!)
  • How people choose to begin looking for a book
  • What things Book experts know influence how people look for a book: 

How people choose to begin looking for a book: Fancy taking part in a one question questionnaire? 

When you're on your own- in a library/bookshop/charity shop... 
How do you choose a new book? 

(please encourage any friends of yours to feed into this conversation too- the more answers the better!) 

The second is fun: I've spent the last few days reading behavioral psychology papers- there's a great one that Ogilvy's published and refreshing all the work I've done in this area before. This afternoon I pulled my head out of the books (ahem) and went book searching (ahem). Things I noticed....

No conversation (but I undertook some definite eaves dropping).
No customers- they were obsessing over the location of their calendars for sale. 
There is an event space upstairs. 
Nice touches on the entrance display bookcases: 
"Cold Reads" 
Great conversation with floor staff: 
The store layout is designed by clever people at head office- who have analytic information about why they clash different book categories together. (That's worth a phone call!) 
Publishers are tending towards a very tactile enjoyable feel to a book (rather than shiny cover etc). 
When people don't know what they want the staff focus on drawing out their history. 
they often know that there are questions that people are afraid to ask. 
Also watched someone come in and say " There's a book about a polish family,real story, has the maps at the back" (what the title?/ Where did you see it?) I can't remember I saw it on amazon but I wanted to get it here..... 
Brilliant to talk to: 
The only store who asked if they could help me. 
Creating a returning atmosphere- so people feel welcome. 
Covers mustn't be Dull- even self publish books- need to have a good cover. Shiny stands out, in a bad way. 
People love to know what other people want (that's why top sellers are so good- they'e like the returns trolly) But they said something very interesting about that- which is that the returns trolly is an INCREDIBLE mixture of books in one location- without you having to run all over the building. THIS IS GREAT. 
Browsers often won't go downstairs- they don't feel brave enough. Which is similar to the need for bravery in Libraries. 
They classify their books (inc fiction) by Country really engaging. 
up selling really helps them (the cards, all the such). 
Rearranging books can make a difference- return customer expect to see something new in the same places- this could be very interesting as a tessellating tool, for instance and will bring out behavioural things (do you guys know the Nightmare story- the ITV children's game: they original designed this incredible play your own adventure story- but 3/4 of it never got accessed by the players: so they switched it, so that each week, whichever direction the contestants chose (east, west, north or south) they always went into the story room the producers wanted- it didn't matter. 
Other things they mentioned: 
People want/ appreciate the experience feeling special. They want to discover something and find out more. They want magic, they want to feel special for their decisions. And the display area has to be inviting. 
I also heard a great story about someone putting an angela carter novel in amongst the mills and boon, because it had the same coloured spine. 
Key behavioural learnings we should mimic: 
  • We should DEFINITELY have a country/worldwide search (you hardly ever get to do that in Libraries and book shops) so you can click on any area in the world, and find books from there (and maybe books recommended there?)  
  • We should have a tessellating option- either for something like search classifications ( fiction, non fiction etc). or for other key info- that rearranges itself. 
  • We would do well to figure in a couple of behavial tools quite near the top of the 'tree' that allows us to determine some behavioural things (for more literal, and un literal searches). (Gardening- allotments, forests, indoors, gardens etc etc). 
  • WE should have season classifications (cold reads)
  • We should time of day classifications: ( for breakfast and radio for, on the bus, lunch break or with the shipping forecast etc). 
  • A random 'returns trolly' where recent returns from anywhere in the library are jumbled together.
And saving the best to last: Here is what we need to buy. NOW, it's incredible! We need to work with this guy-it's like everything we could have imagined magically created in Poland!  

PS I came back for 4 books- all from Stanfords- they really engaged me!