In the third of our profiles on nifty websites and tools that help readers and bookish types connect online, we bring you a glimpse at Glue. Fraser Kelton from Adaptive Blue, the company behind Glue, was kind enough to answer a few questions and shed some light on this very interesting and literally ubiquitous new way for readers to share their thoughts about books.
Q: What exactly is Glue, and how does it work?
Glue is a web-wide social network for books, movies, and music. It appears automatically as you browse popular sites to show you friends who have visited the same item and what they think.
The cool part about Glue is that it uses semantics to connect people around a common object, regardless of where it’s visited. This means that if you visit a book on Powells, you’ll be able to see what your friends thought of that book even if they visited it on Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, or dozens of other popular book sites.
Glue is a browser add-on, so it can bring you contextual information where and when it makes sense – while you’re looking at a book or movie on a popular site.
Q: You’re getting a great response from the bookish community. Why is Glue particularly useful/appealing to book bloggers?
First, while we are all generally interested in what our friends think about books, there’s currently no easy way to get this information. You either have to log in to a social network and search for information or reach out via Twitter, email or IM to find out what your friends think.
All of these options require work. There’s also additional complexity when your friends are fractured across multiple closed social networks. Do you have to join Shelfari, LibraryThing, GoodReads AND weRead to find out what your friends think? This feels unnecessarily hard and is definitely not user friendly.
“Glue,” as ZDNet wrote in it’s review, “frees us from the tyranny of the site.” Because Glue knows that The Kite Runner is the same book – regardless of whether it’s on Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, Shelfari, etc. – you can find out what your friends think of the book, regardless of the site that everyone visits.
Second, Glue is contextual. When do you want to know what your friends think of a specific book? Right when you’re looking at that book.
We have a healthy presence in the bookish community. You can read why they love Glue via this blog post.
Q: Several publishers and booksellers have recently announced they’ll be incorporating Glue into their sites. Is this a growing trend?
It definitely is. Glue is now integrated onto every book page on Random House and Unbridled Books. The implementation makes a lot of sense for publishers. Glue makes it easy to surface web-wide book conversations directly onto their pages. It’s site agnostic and can be filtered by friends.
We’ve had great support over the past year from smaller, more nimble groups like Unbridled Books and O’Reilly. They seemed to be the first to understand the value of surfacing the web-wide conversation and community around books. Larger publishers are starting to take notice too.
We’re proud that we have support from the largest consumer book publisher and one of the most respected independent publishers. We’re in discussions with many of the large publishers.
Q: I’ve talked to several people who don’t want to sign up for Glue because it seems invasive and reveals too much private information (browsing habits, purchases). It’s this a legitimate concern? Does Glue have safeguards or privacy settings?
I think it’s prudent for everyone to question how much private information is shared when using any web-service.
With respect to Glue, we’ve implemented a number of features that give individual’s deep control over their privacy. Many of the concerns cited about privacy on Glue stem from a common misperception.
The big misperception is that Glue is active on every page you visit, sharing information with everyone. In fact, Glue is only active on popular sites about books, movies, music, and other everyday things. You can see the entire list at www.getglue.com/sites. On all other sites and pages Glue is completely inactive and no information is shared with anyone. These sites act as a white list for Glue.
Generally, many people are comfortable sharing the books and movies that they like. There are situations where you may visit an item that you aren’t comfortable sharing. Permanently removing the connection between yourself and the item is a top-level function. Additionally, there’s a mode, similar to Twitter’s, called “Protect My Presence.” When this is selected, only approved friend’s can see your activity. We think that these measures, combined with the fact that the user has full control over their data, mitigates much of the privacy concerns. That being said, there will always be individuals who aren’t comfortable sharing information online.
Q: What is the response from the publishers and booksellers who have signed up with Glue? Are they seeing an increase in traffic to their sites? What about sales?
The integrations on the various publisher and bookseller sites have not been live long enough to collect sufficient data. I’m not able to say at this time how big of a positive impact has been made.
We have another product, book widgets that have been live on a number of publisher and popular author sites for a number of months. On average we’re seeing about a 30 % click-through rate and a 4 – 6 % transaction rate from this product. These numbers are higher than average thanks to the contextual and relevant information that we provide. We hope to see similarly great metrics for our new product.
To check out Glue: http://getglue.com/
If you’ve tried Glue, leave a comment to let us know what you think about it.
And, if you’ve been to a cool reader-oriented site, or found a cool reader-community tool – please let us know about that too!