While e-booksellers are able to recommend titles to varying degrees of accuracy, you have to already be a customer with a purchase history for the feedback to be helpful. So what's the best way to discover your next read beyond recommendations from a friend, or a librarian...or a friend who is a librarian?
Digital booksellers, in particular Amazon and Google Play, can formulate recommendations according to your past purchase history. However, this does not work out so well if you share an account with other family members, spread your book purchases across various sellers, regularly borrow from the library, or you [gasp] buy print books from someone other than Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.
Of course, these are not your only options for discovering new books. So, to help you find your next favorite summer read, here are four book discovery sites available now and four more that are in the works.
Goodreads: Recently acquired by Amazon, Goodreads has long been the king of online book communities, with a gigantic membership of over 18 million users sharing what they're reading, and what they think about those books. While Goodreads does have a recommendation component, it's really built around the social component: the ability to see what your friends are reading can be a powerful motivator for checking out new titles.
Also in this category, Anobii.
Shelfari: Similar to Goodreads, Shelfari also heavily revolves around the social component between users, and is also owned by Amazon. Shelfari also offers book breakdowns giving info about characters, and leverages Amazon's recommendation engine (i.e. people who bought this book also bought this other book).
What Should I Read Next?: This site aims to answer that very question without bells and whistles. The search site is ultra-simple and produces suggestions based upon the books you've already read and rated. No login is required, but users can save favorite books once registered.
Whichbook: Slider-based search is the name of the game at Whichbook. These sliders are used to describe everything from the desired book length to the amount of violence and beauty within each story. Of course, some of these variables seem highly subjective, so your mileage may vary, but it's a novel way to search.
Novelry: Unveiled at Book Expo America 2013, Novelry allows users to search not just by genres, but also by more specified subjects and themes. While Novelry will also have an open browse mode, the app is most powerful when users have an idea about the type of book desired. For example, a search term of "steampunk zombies that battle werewolves" can bring back results specific to the theme, the titles, and character components. Novelry will launch July 1, 2013.
Coverlist: A product of the Publishing Hackathon, Coverlist is all about book covers and artwork, a visual search experience for browsing books. Book pairings, a recommendation of one book based on the viewing of another, happens when hovering over one book. Coverlist is currently in the prototype stage, with only about 100 books in the database, and not yet open to the public.
Evoke: Also a Publishing Hackathon alum yet to be released, Evoke will launch with young adult titles, recommending books based upon characters that you most enjoy reading about. Since characters really drive many young adult stories, the Evoke team chose the specific vibrant genre as a starting point, with hopes to launch and grow into an all-ages product soon.
Visibrary: Like the name hints, this yet-to-be-released product is about discovering books from public libraries. You choose a book you like and based on that choice, the app makes recommendations from titles available at the library. The search is across a variety of media, including audiobooks, and is a fun way to discover new and old titles at your local library when a librarian is unavailable. Visibrary is launching at New York Public Library first, with plans for future editions compatible with other libraries.
Here are a few more posts from our archives for tech using bibliophiles:
(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho & Laura E. Hall, all others as linked)