in Blogging, User Interface

Why doesn’t Amazon.com support embedding of their content?

So yesterday, when I was writing about Bill Buxton’s new book, I went to Amazon.com, thinking I’d grab a picture of the cover of the book, and as a thank you to Amazon.com have the image of the book cover link to their site. So, I started doing the same old rigamarole of saving the book cover graphic, opening it in Photoshop to tweak it (resize it, remove the gray background inserted by Amazon, etc.) and then I thought “wait, why I am I sitting here preparing a graphic that already exists on the web? Why not just point to that graphic?” So, I went back to the Amazon site and viewed the page source and trawled around to find the url for the image. And I’m sure if I had tooled around enough in the page source, I would have been able to find the right link, but after a while, I simply decided this wasn’t worth my time. At some point, while all this was happening, someone sent me a link to a video on YouTube (yes, it was another completely ridiculous but funny YouTube video, and no I won’t tell you what it was), so I went to watch it, but found myself instead staring at YouTube Embed/URL feature and wondering why in the world Amazon doesn’t add this to their site. Y’know something like this…

Mockup of how the YouTube embed feature might look on the Amazon site

Let’s see what all the possible advantages might be of this feature:

  • Authors of the book can easily promote it on their site, and the embedded content could include optional sales info or ratings info or whatever.
  • People who have reviewed the book on Amazon’s site can display a snippet of their review on their website. Users who want to read the rest of the review would be taken to the Amazon site.
  • Bloggers, like me, who want to write about a book could easily display a book cover (and maybe optional features like the search inside link in their blog entries.

So why hasn’t Amazon done this? Is there some legal reason that prevents it? Do they already have the feature but I just wasn’t able to track it down?

  1. Andrew, well actually yes it would make a lot of sense for Amazon to enable embedding of images or even several pages from a book using ipaper. This would further expose their content encouraging discussion around this content which will in turn increase awareness of certain publications and finally translate into sales. How can you not see this??? You’re not putting the embed code for the regular people! You are placing it there for bloggers and those people who want to be ambassadors for your product and get conversation happening around your content. Those widgets are lame!

  2. Ok, point taken, Amazon isn’t the same as YouTube, and most people don’t go to Amazon to embed content. Thanks for pointing me to the Amazon widgets site. That seems pretty close to what I was looking for. So, in line with that, to update my recommendation, it might make sense for Amazon to add a small ‘share this’ button to their pages, which would link to a contextual view of the widgets page.

  3. In principle, the idea of making it easier to use Amazon images off the Amazon site is good, but the YouTube way of putting the URL in a textfield is just gross. I mean, Amazon’s detail pages aren’t the most beautiful pages on the internet, but adding a “naked” URL in a box like that isn’t even up to the current level of design quality. Plus, you’ve got to ask how many people really want to embed Amazon images in other places–it’s not a site primarily about sharing digital content like YouTube is. We’ve got a lot of regular people shopping at Amazon who we can’t ask to understand what “embed a URL” might mean.

    Check out widgets.amazon.com, which does a lot more than just let you grab an image for your website (although if you just want to grab an image, it’s kind of a pain).

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