Len Edgerly Interviews Christian Hupfeld, creator of eReaderIQ.com
By LEN EDGERLY, KND Contributing Editor
Amidst coverage and focus on the huge corporate players in the eBook Revolution, I love spending time with someone like Christian Hupfeld.
Amazon has 65,600 employees, and Google has 33,077. Christian Hupfeld’s eReaderIQ.com today welcomes Employee Number 2, his wife. She leaves a full-time paying job to help him take advantage of what he, without exaggeration, terms “the unbelievable growth” of eBook adoption and business.
It’s a great story, beginning in 2006 when Christian was on paternity leave with the couple’s first child, taking a break from his job in customer service tech support for an insurance company.
“He was a good kid, so I had free time,” Christian recalled in a telephone interview this week from his home in northern California. “I decided to teach myself how to build websites. I built a little website called jungle-search.com. I had no intentions of having it be a Kindle website, but some genius came along and figured out that you could find free Kindle books through that website, and that’s where this all started.”
Jungle-search was a general Amazon.com search engine that included an option to search for Kindle books. When his Kindle user base started to grow, he created a specific Kindle search page at Jungle-search featuring free-book lists and price-drop alerts. Everything was going fine until a year and a half ago, when his wife lost her job.
“I kind of went into panic mode, and figured I better do something to make up the extra income.” Christian said. He was generating commissions as an Amazon Affiliate at the time. “I’d come home from work and spend another eight hours behind the computer for about a month straight.” That led to his creation of the site now known as eReaderIQ, and in September of last year its growth enabled him to quit his day job at the insurance company.
Growth in the Kindlesphere generally comes in Santa’s sleigh, and you can see evidence of this at eReaderIQ.
The user base doubled during the holiday shopping season in 2010, and from that base it tripled last year. eReaderIQ now receives approximately 20,000 unique visitors daily and sends out between 50,000 and 70,000 e-mail alerts to users who rely on the site for updated information on availability and price drops for Kindle titles.
With his wife on board, Christian is expanding his business to the blogging world with Book Basset, “always on the hunt for the best Kindle deals.”
eReaderIQ has plenty of competition from other Internet tools for tracking prices for Kindle titles, including Kindle Nation Daily’s own eBook Tracker, which enables you to see a graph of a Kindle title’s sales rank and price over the past year. eBook Tracker will add a price-drop alert feature within the next few weeks.
Other sites that track eBook prices include Luzme , eBook Price Drops, and zooLert.
The price-tracker sites are good listening posts for following the habits and preferences of eBook readers. For example, Christian Hupfeld has noticed that users of his U.K. site choose the same top genres as users from his U.S. site. However, here in the States he sees less of a tolerance for “profanity, erotica and things like that.”
Christian has found that users of his site don’t want him making filtering decisions for them, even if that might be more convenient. “People really want to make that determination on their own, on what’s suitable,” he told me.
The design of eReaderIQ at first looked cluttered to me, but as I spent more time at the site, I was reminded of the information-presentation principles promulgated by Edward Tufte. ET, as he is known, recommends high data density, so the user can make his or her own choices of relevant information.
That’s why it makes sense that eReaderIQ presents you with 18 choices at the home page for making your own filtering decisions as you browse thousands of free Kindle Books.
Readers also want to decide for themselves how many stars they’re looking for in Kindle rankings, and how many reviews are enough protection against gaming the system by an author or publisher’s friends and fellow booksellers. Beware a book whose reviews all seem to be saying the same thing, Christian cautioned.
“I’d always thought of a book that had a four- or five-star review with five or six ratings was probably fairly good,” he added. “But now that you’re seeing so much competition in that marketplace, it’s hard to take the ratings seriously until you get up into the 30s and 40s of actual reviews.”
What Christian Hupfeld does take seriously is the dizzying growth in eBook adoption and the opportunities it offers for a family business that today doubled its workforce.
Amazon, Google, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and the big publishers get most of the headlines in coverage of the eBook Revolution, and that’s understandable. But I love knowing how much innovation and hard work takes place below the media radar.
I bet there is someone out there who will spend most of tonight after his or her day job, working on the next great idea for changing the way we read.
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Kindle Nation Weekender columnist Len Edgerly blogs at The Kindle Chronicles where you can hear his interview with Christian Hupfeld in its entirety at 22:34 of this week’s Kindle Chronicles podcast Episode 204.