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Amazon Request List

   August 28th, 2008

Amazon 1st To Know logoIt seems like I learn of a new web tool or website feature every day.

A patron had missed seeing Hellboy II in theaters, and asked to be placed on hold for on the DVD. Since it's not out yet, or even close to being out yet, I told him I couldn't place a hold in our catalog.

The next obvious question is when is the DVD coming out. Usually I use the "DVD Details" section of IMDB.com for that, but in this case they didn't have the information. So I tried Amazon, and this is where I learned something new.

They didn't have a release date either, but they did have a record for it - and it let people add themselves to the list so they'll be notified when it is available. Amazon calls this their "1st To Know" notification service, which I thought it a great idea.

I didn't go through the steps, but I'm guessing that putting yourself on the list is also committing to buy a copy. But even still, I like that they are flexible enough to accommodate anticipated need.

Which is unlike most library systems. In my library's catalog, patrons can place holds on items as soon as we put an "on order" record in the catalog, but we try not to put in on order records too far ahead of time.

On order records for books aren't too bad, but movies are a whole different story.

Because we have different records for wide screen and full screen and director's cut and 10th anniversary re-releases and every other possible iteration, putting a record in too early means we might end up with holds for something we can't actually get. Or, if we buy the wide screen release and every other library in my consortium buys the full screen version, patrons with holds on the wide screen will have to wait for their turn, even if they don't care if they get the wide or full screen version.

Being able to get an idea of demand early on would help in knowing how many copies the library should buy, but this whole version thing is something we haven't found a good fix for yet. Amazon selling DVDs is certainly different than a library loaning DVDs, but there has got to be something we can learn from their model to serve library patrons better.

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5 Responses to “Amazon Request List”

  1. Chris Says:

    If I’m not mistaken all this does is send you an email when the product is available to order. You don’t actually commit to purchasing the item when signing up here. I’ve done this a bunch times when ordering TV Season sets that haven’t quite been announced yet. I just don’t remember it being called “1st To Know.”

  2. Anyone use Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary (for the iPod)? Says:

    […] Amazon Request List Sphere: Related Content Ask a Question […]

  3. Becca Says:

    videoeta.com offers a similar reminder service, with no obligation to buy anything. That’s the one I usually used when I was ordering DVDs for my library system.

  4. walt crawford Says:

    Chris is right–at least based on my experience, again not called “1st to know.” For Picket Fences, Amazon had a sign-up option that was also used as a sort of lobby to get the season released…unfortunately, that hasn’t happened for seasons after the first. There was no commitment to order in signing up for the notification.

  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    I hadn’t tried it, and they kept referring to “customers,” so that’s why I guessed people were committing to purchasing. But a simple notification is much better.

    And would work better for libraries, too. Instead of letting people get on a request list way before the item is actually available, this would just be and added service. Also, it doesn’t punish people who don’t use the service. People could sign up to be notified when they can place requests, but they’d have to come back and place the request themselves, the same time everyone else.