Random House Book Widget opens to rave reviews

Random House has launched a new book reader. The book reader is built in Flex, and creates a 50 page (or so) preview for most of their books. It also allows people to embed a preview of a favorite book in their own website. The launch of the “Insight” widget is getting a ton of great press for Random House. The application is prominently displayed on their home page:


This was such a fun project to work on, effectiveUI‘s team really knocked this one out of the park…

Widget Wars: A New Hope
At a glance, the Random House offering is much nicer to look at, faster to load pages, and offers additional functions like search. So, if you want to know who winds the first round of the “Widget Wars,” Random House does.

Random House Debuts Its Book Search Widget
Yesterday, HarperCollins rolled out its “Browse Inside” feature that will eventually be available for all its books and could be embedded in blogs and websites. Not to be outdone, Random House debuted its “Browse and Search” widget. I like the Random House Widget better as it is just the cover and gives you the option of choosing a large or small version. I like the layout of the Random House browsing screen but it doesn’t allow you to change the font size and the screen display looks like a scanned image and not a true text one (the fonts were smudgy). Harper Collins browser loaded faster, but had an irritating watermark of the HC copyright on almost every page. It was easy to manuever with font size
choices and a table of contents.

Random House’s Insight Widget
So I received an e-mail from Random House about their new book search widget, called Insight: If you click on it, you should get a larger, more readable window and be able to look through the first 57 pages of The Book Thief by Markus


HarperCollins has released a “Browse Inside” widget that simply opens the Browse Inside feature in a new window (example), while the Random House widget is a bit more advanced: it lets you browse the pages of the book in the widget itself, and even pop out a large window so you can actually read the book as a slideshow. Even better: they’ve provided an option to copy the widget without leaving the page you’re on, and a “buy” link to buy the book on the publisher’s site. There’s also a book search to find other Random House books. Rupert Murdoch may own HarperCollins and MySpace, but RandomHouse is outshining them when it comes to widgets.

Speaking of nerdy widgets, Random House and HarperCollins just came out with their own book widgets while I slept. Both widgets allow you to read and search books, but the Random House widget is the clear winner for its self-contained design. Contrast it with the clunkier HarperCollins one. For a good example, check out the widget for Random House’s Meta Math by Gregory Chaitin. My only gripe is they should make these things easier to find on their site by putting them all in one place.

First Amazon, Google, now publishers …
“We believe Insight will be an invaluable marketing tool for our publishers,
our authors, and particularly our booksellers, as book content sampling
frequently is followed by consumer purchase,” Andrew Weber, Random House’s senior vice

Books Blog: A Conspiracy of Smart People – http://blogs.timesunion.com/books

RH Launches Its Own Widget
Not to be outdone by HarperCollins, which last week launched a browse-inside-the-book widget for selected titles in its digital library, Random House has unveiled its own widget, called Insight.

And Here comes Random House
Harper gets off to an early lead, bringing their ‘widget’ out first. But here comes Random House! Their slicker, more functional ‘widget’ is now out of the shoot. So the race is on! We’ve been working on a test with the Random House widget on our eloquence site. If you want to take a look at it in real life, click on the “Look Inside” link on this eloquence page.

The Book Standard
Random House Gives Insight
By Kimberly Maul

Book Excerpts Can Be Searched Online
NEW YORK — Random House, Inc. has made online excerpts available from books by Toni Morrison, Calvin Trillin and thousands of others as publishers continue…

Publishers like Random House, HarperCollins hope move will drive sales
NEW YORK – Random House, Inc. has made online excerpts available from books by Toni Morrison, Calvin Trillin and thousands of others as publishers continue their push to sell more books through the Internet…….

US publishers allow book browsing on the Web
NEW YORK, Feb 27 (Reuters) – The dusty world of book publishing has taken a
step into cyberspace as Random House and HarperCollins letting customers
browse …

Book Excerpts Can Be Searched Online
AP 02.27.07, 1:28 PM ET. Random House, Inc. has made online excerpts available from books by Toni Morrison, Calvin Trillin and thousands of others as …

Random is offering the Insight program to other publishers as a service program as well, playing in what is shaping up to be a large field of vendors. Shatz says “those conversations are still in the pretty early stages.”

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  1. mikeypotter said:

    Cool, great job Anthony and team. I’ll be profiing this on my website, http://www.riapedia.com/ tomorrow!


  2. Alex said:

    Thank You

  3. sam said:


  4. Finally, after years of Flash Book component popularity, it becomes used by the people who it was intended for by definition. Flash developers played around these books for a long time (me too) and finally we’ve got something close to real-world solution, not a toy for Flash junkies.

    I wonder why O’Reilly still didn’t reacted to this development. Also, it seems RandomHouse removed the feature from their page.

    Pretty enigmatic situation.

  5. I find that book search widgit to be very useful.

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