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April 10, 2009

BookLamp – Matching Readers to Books

ss-booklamp

People are consistently looking to the web to find new reading material. In addition to the popularity of eBooks, there are new ways to market and read books both online and using portable electronic devices. People have been wondering when publishing was going to catch up with the music industry in terms of how books are discovered and distributed, and a site like Book Lamp is a major step in that direction.

BookLamp is an intriguing idea – a sort of Pandora Radio meets books. If you haven’t heard of Pandora, it’s a service that compiles and automatically selects a music playlist based on your perceived tastes. As an example, if you were to select the Beatles as your starting point, Pandora will play songs from the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and other similarly-sounding bands.

Book Lamp intends to do the same thing: you type in, say, the Da Vinci Code, and it will recommend books based on that selection. In some sense, Amazon already does this by displaying what other people bought, but BookLamp has the potential to be more accurate because its recommendations are based on author attributes and book content versus solely the opinions of other readers. However, it’s also much more difficult to populate BookLamp’s databases given the hundreds of thousands of books on the market but the concept definitely holds some promise.

Practical Uses:

  • Find a new book to read without skimming piles of book covers
  • Market your book by getting it listed alongside similar types/genres
  • Showcase your reading expertise – BookLamp is actively seeking book recommendations

Insider Tips:

  • There is not a lot you can do on the site – so just poke around. Test out the process using book titles you know or like to see if the recommendations make sense for you
  • Join the forums be part of a growing community – generally people seem pretty taken with the BookLamp concept
  • Take a look at the companion site CanGoogleHearMe.com about the project

What we liked:

  • It’s a unique service – and potentially very useful
  • It’s free to register and test out
  • The creators of BookLamp are very open to suggestions and criticism

What we didn’t like:

  • A meager selection of books so far
  • The matching process just isn’t all that successful. We tried out George Orwell’s 1984 – a few modern science fiction books came up, but not books like Brave New World or a number of others that we felt would be more appropriate. BookLamp is still early in the development process so we’re going to assume that the recommendations are only going to get better over time

Alternatives:

Company Info:

  • Launched: February 2007
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Idaho
  • Founded by: Aaron Stanton
  • Web site: http://www.booklamp.com

Costs:

  • Free