Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An App to Sift Through Books

By LESLIE KAUFMAN - The New York Times - 20 January, 2013

How do you find out what books friends and family are reading and loving?

One answer is a conversation face to face — but that is so old-fashioned. Another is to join social media sites devoted to books, like or — but that takes time and commitment. You could follow book recommendations from friends on Facebook — but you would have to dig through other preferences.

Random House says these options are fine, but not enough. On Tuesday, the publisher’s digital unit will release an app called BookScout that lets users share favorite books with friends and then receive reading recommendations based on their own preferences. (It was released to Random House employees last week.)

The sharing takes place on Facebook but is focused just on books, and it is stripped of the social network’s extras, like chat groups.
The app features selections from all publishers, not just those of Random House, which are available to buy using links to major retailers.

The app is the culmination of months of work by Random House’s digital marketplace development group.
For new users, the app’s recommendation algorithm looks at your Facebook timeline for any previous “likes” of books or general interest pages (“history” or “romance,” for example) to gather information about books you might enjoy. If you have not liked any books or general interests, the app will offer best sellers until it learns your preferences. If you see books you do not like, you can also mark “not interested.”

To install the app, just visit

No comments: