User interface design is all about creating onscreen metaphors for real life objects, actions and behaviours. Browsing books on Amazon is more like flipping through a catalogue than wandering through the aisles and lingering over shelves in a bookshop. Zoomii.com offers a realworld metaphor for book buying - visual bookshelves, covers out (if this takes off, I wonder if they'll start putting books in spine out and charging publishers to show the cover on the shelf?) that you can click, grab and move along. You can zoom in and out to see more or less books, or examine a cover in detail.
It is perhaps a sign of the times (or just the Bezos strategy) that this new book browsing service is built on Amazon's cloud computing services, EC2 and S3 (via ReadWriteWeb)
The challenge now, as I'm sure the folks at zoomii are aware, will be to keep the prices competitive, get more books in there, refine the UI in response to user behaviour, and spread the word. Good luck to them!
Photo: Entering Hyperspace by Eole Wind