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Following Google Webmaster suggestions

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On January 25th this year, I updated Booko to display more descriptive page titles and added content to meta-description tags along with several other meta-tags. The meta-description tags now say stuff like:

Prices (including delivery) for I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson range from $25.19 at Bookworld up to $44.55. ISBN: 9781742612577

Here’s a graph of the number of Booko pages indexed by Google :

Google Index Status of Booko

Total pages indexed in Google

The number of pages which Google index on Booko had been steadily falling for several months – after providing much better, distinct page titles and meta data, the number of pages indexed has steadily grown.

Google Webmaster (Optimization -> HTML Improvements ) had been alerting me that Booko had a high number of “Duplicate meta descriptions” – taking their advice seems to have increased the number of Booko’s pages in Google index.  That can only be good right?

Written by Dan Milne

March 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am

Posted in Booko

Know what you’re measuring

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At Booko, we use New Relic to measure performance.  When deploying a new change, it’s good to watch New Relic and see how performance is impacted by the latest changes.

Recently we fixed a bug related to the list functionality of Booko.  Every browser viewing Booko polls the servers for the price of the user’s list every two seconds until the prices are up-to-date.  The bug caused the browser to poll when there was no need to – essentially making every browser hit Booko every two seconds.   These requests were really fast to respond to – essentially with the message “You’re good – no change, stop talking to me.”.   After fixing this bug, here’s what New Relic displayed:

Bug fix makes things worse?

Bug fix makes things worse?

The bug fix went in at 13:40-something.  Apparently response times shot up from < 200ms to ~ 600ms.  What happened?

I think the hint is in the Throughput graph.  RPM dropped from 2000 / minute to somewhere around 200. I suspect that New Relic averages your response times and since we removed 90% of requests which were all fast, the average response time jumped up and the Apdex score crashed down from Awesome to Meh.

All this just reinforces that it’s good to know what you’re measuring.  The average response time is interesting, but in this case the average was not representative of Booko user experience.

Written by Dan Milne

March 17th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Booko

Books for Big Fat Smile

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Big Fat Smile is a voluntary community organisation established in January 2012 by two friends, Kelly and Angela. They collect second-hand children’s clothing and toys, bag them by the age and sex of each child and then work with agencies in the community who distribute them to families in need. Each pack contains a selection of clothes, a toy and importantly, a book.

Booko shares Big Fat Smile’s appreciation of literature and wanted to help them include an age-appropriate book in each child’s pack. We weren’t ready to part with any of our kids’ books yet, so we used Booko to source some reasonably priced books that have been either tried and tested by our toddler or recommended by friends. This week we were glad to hand Big Fat Smile a bag of books for children aged 0 – 5. We really hope the books are enjoyed by the children who receive them, together with their parents/carers.

If you have any clothing, toys or books, primarily for children aged 0 – 5, that you no longer need, please get in touch with Big Fat Smile. You can find them on Facebook.

Written by riina

April 9th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Booko

Using Booko on the iPhone

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One of the most requested features we get at Booko is an iPhone app for scanning books.

After doing some research, I’ve discovered the free ZBar Barcode Reader for iPhone.  ZBar lets you set URLs to open after doing the scanning.  Here’s how you set it up so you can scan a book and get the Booko page.

Download the ZBar application from iTunes and start it up:

Hit the camera icon and scan a barcode.  The ISBN will be scanned and a web page will open:

Hit the “Barcode” navigation and head back to the Barcode Detail page.  Hit Edit:

Scroll to the bottom of the list and hit “Add new Link”.  Fill the details. For URL enter:{ISBN-13}

Save the new link, then drag the new Booko link to the top of the list :

Hit “Done”.  Now when scanning books or DVDs, Booko will pop up immediately.


Written by Dan Milne

December 27th, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Booko

Adding an iOS home screen bookmark icon

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Thanks to Liam for suggesting adding an iOS home screen bookmark icon.   Turns out, it’s pretty straight forward.

Looks pretty nice I reckon.

Now I just need to make Booko look good on mobile.

Written by Dan Milne

December 2nd, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Booko

Price Alerts

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Booko users now have an awesome new feature: price alerts.  If you’re logged into Booko, you’ll see see some new text on product pages – “Click here to create an alert for this product”.  Clicking this will allow you to set an alert price. If Booko sees this product at or below your alert price, it will email you to let you know.

You’ll also find a new Manage Alerts section in the User Menu on the left hand side. This is where you can modify the alert price, as well as activate, de-activate or delete an alert.

Booko is set up to check the prices daily, but we may push that out to weekly if the load gets too high.  If you’re interested in what’s popular, the top 50 alerts can be seen here.

Written by Dan Milne

May 15th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Booko

Alert for AbeBook users:

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Epsilon Informs AbeBooks of E-mail Database Breach

We have been informed by Epsilon, a third-party vendor we use to send e-mails, that an unauthorized person outside their company accessed files that included e-mail addresses of some AbeBooks customers. Epsilon has advised us that the files that were accessed did not include any customer information other than email addresses.

As a reminder, AbeBooks will never ask customers for personal or account information in an e-mail. Please exercise caution if you get any emails that ask for personal information or direct you to a site where you are asked to provide personal information.

Written by Dan Milne

April 10th, 2011 at 12:54 am

Posted in Booko

Like a broken record

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Need a new battery for your White Macbook because the older one is bulging out the bottom of your laptop? No worries – that’ll be 129.00 USD thanks. Oh – you’re in Australia? That’ll be $199.00 AUD thanks!

Wow – or I could get a knock off for $39.00.

Written by Dan Milne

February 16th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Posted in On The Web

Australians cop it again

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As if it’s not bad enough that whining Australian billionaires are complaining that international stores don’t have to pay GST, companies which can enforce regional pricing are going to town on Australian buyers.  Apple’s just released their new Mac App Store – the Mac equivalent of the iTunes store already available for iPhone / iPad / iPod devices.  Apple have regional pricing all worked out, so if you think we’ll catch a break with their latest online shopping experience, you obviously haven’t been paying attention.

Take one of my favourite Mac apps – Omnigraffle. Buying it direct from Omnigroup is $199 USD ~= $200.672 AUD

If you’re in North America and you use the Mac App Store US : $199 USD ~= $200.672 AUD

If you’re in the UK Mac App Store – $199 USD ~= $200.672 AUD

If you’re in the Finnish Mac App Store : €149.99 ~= $194.843 AUD

If you’re lucky enough to buy from the Australian Mac App Store, you’ll pay a whopping $249.00 AUD. That’s a 25% premium for living in the lucky country.   See JoshuaGan’s post for more info. (Update: This issue is mentioned in an Omnigroup blog post.)

It’s not just Apple though – check the Steam prices

Call of Duty:  Black Ops from the various international stores:

The UK Steam store : £39.99 GBP ~= $62.058 AUD

The US Steam store : $59.99 USD ~= $60.428 AUD

The Finnish Steam store:  €59.99 EUR ~= $78.447 AUD

And last, (and the opposite of least) the Australian Steam store : $89.99 USD ~= $90.647 AUD

The Steam prices are probably caused by Australian distributors taking some obscene cut. COD4: Black Ops is $89 AUD at both KMart and JB HiFi.

Written by Dan Milne

January 7th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Posted in On The Web

Friendlier login for Booko

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Booko now remembers where you were prior to hitting the “login” button and sends you back there when you’ve logged in.  Enjoy!

Written by Dan Milne

January 6th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Booko