Friday, 10 September 2010

The hypnotic sight of books selling

Image from The Book Depository, Powered by Google Maps
Geographical Information Systems have been around for a while. When in Victorian times, Doctor John Snow pinpointed the source of a cholera outbreak in London to the Broad Street pump by marking outbreaks on a detailed map he was using a manual version of such a system. The geographical presentation gives a view on the data that is much richer than simply looking at a table.

But such systems are coming of age with the likes of Google Maps making it easy for companies to pump data into a map, providing a visual representation of  that information.

As an author, I find a particular fascination in the application set up by the online bookseller The Book Depository. You can watch in near-real time as book sales ping up around the world. (Rather confusingly, after the initial sale they seem to go backwards in time, but hey, no one's perfect.) Who is buying what, and why? See the Compedium of Crochet Techniques followed swiftly by The Legend of Zelda Vol. 10. Yes, they're all buying deep literature or stimulating non-fiction. But seriously, it's downright hypnotic. Take a look.

Thanks to Martin Daniels for bringing this to my attention

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