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Amazon Request List

   August 28th, 2008 Brian Herzog

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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