BookerBase 0.3: Deploy fast, deploy often

Two weeks ago the first version of BookerBase was launched. This version was far from a finished product and was full of bugs. Never the less I decided to launch it anyway.

After launch I received a lot of feedback as to how it worked (and mostly how it didn’t work) and some of the bugs that I knew were still there popped up, as well as some new ones. However some of the issues I thought would come up didn’t. This is exactly the reason why I launched! Prioritizing is probably the hardest thing to do when you are this deep in a product.

Here’s an example of how this early launch helped prioritizing. I tried to make the interface as clean as possible, so I eliminated everything that was not necessary at the moment. Therefor I did not have a save button, instead your profile saved automatically and when you didn’t have a profile yet, it would ask for you to create one once you added your first book. From a UX point of view this is a good way to do this, guiding people through the process and giving the appropriate feedback at the appropriate time. However, almost everyone who gave feedback, gave feedback about this; they hated it. I would have never prioritized this as high as I did now so I am glad users were able to give feedback at this early stage. Of course this feature is sorted in this release with a save and preview button.

Members Save



In this phase, the process is different than what I usually use. Whereas the usual 400 minutes process is more like scrum and focusses on getting an end result, this is more like kanban and focusses on getting as much done as possible. For this I use a lot of the Getting Things Done method and for instance put everything in my ‘inbox’  in wanderlust. Every task is small, and if it isn’t it’s broken up into small tasks.


The next step


After this update we I hope there will be a lot of new feedback. Until that time, it’s time for a new project, I am not entirely sure what it will be but it will have something to do with a dashboard.

BookerBase 0.2 Leap of faith

Finally! After nearly 2 months of the customer need pivot BookerBase is ready for the next experiment. The very first version of BookerBase is online. It took much longer than the usual MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) Mostly because there is a lot to this platform that I simply wanted to do. In the end I am glad I did because after this experiment it will be easier to scale up or add functionality to it.

What is ready in this version:

Profile page (see for an example)

Create your own BookerBase
Add Books to your BookerBase (using the google books database)
Edit your BookerBase
Share your BookerBase

A lot is also still not in this version, in fact you can do very little in this version. Even though I am anxious to add more, I really want to do this based on the feedback from real users. So if you are looking for a way to organize your books: visit, create a profile and please tell me what you think!

Final Chapter: BookerBase 0.3 >

BookerBase 0.1 – Iterate

It might seem nothing is happening at all anymore. After all the last post is from more than a month ago. This couldn’t be further from the truth; even though it is not extremely visible, there is a lot of work done on bookerbase and it is ready for the next iteration. After this iteration it should be viable enough to open it up to the public and we will see if I wasted 2 months on this idea.

Iterations done:

√ Homepage
√ Add books to a collection
√ Save a profile
√ Include proper welcome email and save profile details
√ Create a way to have[username] url’s

To do:

Profile page
Share your profile & books
Edit your collection

You can already create your profile at As always feedback is appreciated!

Next Chapter: BookerBase 0.2 >

BookerBase 1st 400 minutes

First of all I have written a small part about why it seems that when an idea matures the 400 minute loops becomes bigger: Feedback on this is always welcome.

This spiral doesn’t mean that after one week the ‘rules’ change. Not at all, every week has 400 minutes, after every 400 minutes a working product should be available. However, after the first 400 minutes a product is ready enough for a test, after the next, this is no longer viable.

How does this work with bookerbase? I tried simple websites to do customer research and I think I know enough for my first leap of faith. In this leap of faith I do believe that when I build a user friendly way to archive your books, people will actually appreciate and do that. So that’s what I am building this. After one week I built something that allows you to look up books and add them to a collection. This however does not yet allow a lot of things that are necessary for it to work, for one it doesn’t allow you to save your collection, so when you navigate away, your collection is gone. Also it doesn’t allow for sharing, modifying and really basic functions like that. I estimate that I need another 3 weeks for this (each basic function is approximately one week) but I do aim to be done after each week and I do. For now you can create your first dummy collection here:

Next Chapter: BookerBase 0.1 >

Leenboek -> Bookerbase

Leenboek has reached a pivotal phase. We can go two ways, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask you for some guidance. Here’s the dilemma:

Lending out books can be viable. I managed to lend them out for a ridiculous amount of money. The book I lent out costs € 20,00 in the store and I lent it out for €9. Of this, €5 was shipping costs, which is way too much. So there’s a few ways to solve this, either get the shipping costs to go down by for example not making people send the book back but rather forward it to the next reader or making people order more books at once, which makes the shipping costs per book a lot lower. So I could continue with a price pivot and see how it fans out.

On the other hand being the ‘library’ was never the idea and has some serious drawbacks. For one it would make me the librarian, and my house into a storage facility for books, neither of these things are very appealing to me. So there was the idea of people providing their books online. In the 2nd experiment I found out that people were not interested in a platform to lend out their books. However, in many talks I had about this idea, people told me that the platform to organise their books is interesting. So that would be the pivot, customer need pivot. What I did, I took the ‘needs’ people told me in the past weeks and turned it into a new landingspage: BookerBase

So here you come into play; I don’t know whether to continue with bookerbase or price pivot leenboek. So I made an question and added a poll here. Whichever you prefer, should I continue with leenboek or bookerbase. Let me know: 

What should be the next step?

View Results

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 Next Chapter: BookerBase 1st 400 minutes > 

Leenboek: experiment 3 ended º Success

Previous assumptions

People are willing to register for leenboek (a platform for lending and loaning books)  Validated
More people than I expected registered for the website

People are willing to add their own books to leenboek  X Invalidated
No books were added after a week of trying to make people add their books.

This weeks assumption

People are willing to spend money on renting a book.

Why this assumption?

Core of the idea is lending out books, I did not get people to add their books but thats only one half of the idea. The other half is that I believe that there is a market for people lending a book (apart from going to the library), and pay for it like renting a movie.

The experiment

When I ‘pitched’ the idea of renting out books to people I often got back that the difference between lending and owning is not that much money. For this experiment I wanted to ensure that the price was plausible. In other words, if someone rents the book, can I send it without losing money?

The funnel

Funnel Leenboek ∞ The funnel started with a landingpage, I created two: The first one is a very popular book worth € 20,00 Link ∞ The Second book is a less popular book worth € 70,00 Link ∞ After that, a registration page (email adress and password) Link ∞ Shipping page (only accessible after registration) ∞ Payment Page (only accessible after shipping) Screen Shot 2012-12-23 at 00.00.55

Traffic was once again sent through search advertising. I advertised the books. The ads were displayed over 10.000 times.

The Results

Out of 10.000 impressions about 1% clicked on the ads. Most on the cheap book (95%) and some on the more expensive book (5%). From the 102 people that landed on the landingpage, 2 people ordered a book for around 8 euro. They both ordered the cheap (20 euro) book. One of which I actually sent the book and donated it after answering some questions:

1. What were you looking for when you found

I was looking for the book from Andy van der Meyde, but I didn’t want to buy it but lend it.

2. Do you have some special purpose for this book? (for example read it on vacation etc)

To read it during the christmas holiday

3. After finding, what was your first impression?

I think its a good site, its good that there is a site where you can lend books

4. Did you miss anything?

Not yet

5. What made you decide to order the book at

It was the book I was looking for and it was for a reasonable price

6. Do you have any tips or recommendations?

Perhaps you need to do more promotion (advertising, commercials). I think your site is rather unknown to the readers of the Netherlands

Lessons Learned

To be honest I would have expected this experiment to invalidate with confidence. However, it didn’t. I wanted to learn if people were actually interested in ‘renting’ a book and, to my own surprise, people did. This doesn’t mean that leenboek in this form is a success. What is evident is that the shipping costs (€ 5,00) make up for a much too large portion of the price. The main reason for this, is that the shipping is both to and from the reader, for leenboek to be a succes; this will have to change.

schets-2In the meanwhile, I also have been working on the other end of the market, getting people to add their book collections to the library. I tried to design (sketch) something that would not tap into the value point (making money from your books) but from a convenience point (simply organize your books).

Next week

It’s christmas season. Next week and the week after there will be no experiments, however a lot of contemplating on how to make this product work. Further more, we are approaching the one year mark of 400 minutes, time to look back on the year and think about how to make it evolve into something solid.

Merry christmas everyone

Next Chapter: Leenboek : BookerBase >