Open Amazon - lesson for libraries?
It describes how Amazon.com has opened up access to the riches of its product database via web services, allowing developers anywhere and everywhere to grab data and re-use it to enhance their own sites. Sales have to be routed through Amazon, but the satellite site gets a commission. This exposes Amazon to an even wider potential market whilst outsourcing the development cost and creativity (as well as some of the profit).
Apart from the possibilities for libraries to use Amazon web services, which has been happening for some time, there is a clear parallel here with what libraries and their systems need to be doing with their own content and services: separating presentation from business logic and content so that they can offer their content and services beyond the OPAC in the places where the users are and presented in ways that are appropriate to those places. This renews the old library adage, 'get the stuff to the chaps.'
Much has been written about the chaps being mostly at Google and Amazon and, more generally, in the 'open' web. One example of the open Web that uses Amazon web services is AllConsuming.net, a site that monitors books being discussed in blogs. In addition to the link to Amazon, there should also be an option to find the book in the user's preferred library. This is provided at the independent Amazon Light but, for a global audience, a single list of libraries all over the world is a crude and ineffective mechanism. What it needs is an embedded service linking to a maintained directory of libraries, providing robust links and a good method to enable the user to select their prefered library from the huge number available.