Smart Phones: Database Access for Geezers
By Tom McKinney
Rare Books on the Go
Mobile computing is changing the world. From online banking, to social networking, to bidding on eBay, everything is being streamlined for the mobile net. I say "streamlined" here because there's one major difference: our view on a phone is at best 3.5" wide, and at worst, around 2", depending on the age of the device. There is an array of phones that can connect to the web, or a mobile version of it. The spectrum runs from top-of-the-line smartphones built for the Internet, like Apple's iPhone, and Research in Motion's Blackberry series, to what you might call "normal" phones, which have a very limited browser feature. The reason mobile computing is important is because the smartphone idea has caught on and moved beyond the business market. So while normal cell phones may have full or limited access to the Internet, this article is targeted for smartphone users, and for prospective buyers.
My perspective is as an iPhone user. However, I have also used a Palm Treo 650, Motorola Blackjack, and RIM Blackberry 8800. This list is made up solely of smartphones, which are optimized for the Web in comparison to regular cell phones like the Motorola RAZR.
There is a place for the mobile Internet in the realm of rare books. Being successful in the business is all about information and applying that knowledge appropriately. With a smartphone in your pocket, there are now ways to stay in touch and online anywhere you happen to be.
Having email in your pocket changes the way you do business. Depending on your perspective, it could be a blessing, or a curse, to have your email available to you twenty-four hours a day! One thing's for sure. If you're in the dark about your material, you're liable to make an unfavorable deal. Email is one way to combat this.
Being a smartphone user is about more than just email, though. With a viable browser, quick searches of the Americana Exchange's AED, or perhaps a price check on AbeBooks or other listing sites could yield the critical data you need in making a decision to buy or not. Or maybe you’re an avid eBay treasure hunter? EBay has a mobile-optimized site. Now, I wouldn't suggest trying to type and post a five-page description for a new listing, but the horizon is definitely broadening. Again, the point here is information, and saved time. Let me give you an example.
I'm at the local flea market that's put on every Saturday a few blocks from my apartment. There are always a couple vendors who are selling used books, and I like to stop by occasionally to check on what they have, maybe find a gem in a pile of otherwise debris. On this particular Saturday, I notice something that just looks old, and could be important. It's a little rough on the edges, but otherwise sound. I decide to investigate a little further. I pull out my smartphone, pull up the AED and do a few searches to see if anything comes up. There are a lot of matches, and none of them seem promising. Oh well, I just saved $15! However, if this had been something good and I didn't have a way to look up material on the spot, I might have left it there for someone else.
The book business isn't something new, but the integration of the Internet with it is. There are of course other ways to effectively collect and sell as you wish. But the Internet is going mobile. There is no doubt about that. I see the ability to research and recall information on the go as a significant advantage. Why not use it?
If you have any further questions, feel free to get in touch with me personally via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll do my best to answer them.