Attempts To Out-Suggest Amazon

One of the exhibitors at TC Disrupt was, a Polish start-up dedicated to letting you know which book you should read next – among other things. The site is essentially a bookstore melded with a recommendation engine melded with a social network. It allows you to follow your friends reading lists, prepare reading groups, and see what you should read next based on your reading history and your friends’ reading lists.

You can buy books through the platform, thereby registering your reading habits right on the site. They’ve been in public beta since June and it looks like they’re getting a bit of traction.

BookLikes is dedicated to all kinds of readers; it’s easy for anyone to find a good book thanks to the site’s highly sensitive algorithm. Unlike other sites, BookLikes considers factors such as reading preferences, general book information and social activity when providing a personal recommendation. Moreover, the algorithm is constantly learning from users’ behavior, allowing the site to give suggestions consistently tailored to people’s reading habits.

The problem with book sites like this one and, to an extent, services like BookCountry, is that reading and writing is quite solitary. Although you and your buds may have similar reading habits, it’s really hard to visit a website after you read a book simply because you’re no longer thinking about the book. Ereaders are obviously a way around this, but B&N already has their own recommendation engine as does Amazon. I could see this as useful for folks who will buy their books specifically from BookLikes but, again, it’s tough to drag the finger from the margin to the screen.

In the end, however, these things seem like they could feasibly work. Will they work on the long term? Probably not, but it’s worth a try. In they end, they can probably sell the recommendation engine once the big guys begin to lap them in the marketplace. Until then, it’s interesting to see how what books are best for you and yours.

The service is in English now and will soon be available in Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Japanese and Polish. Best of all? My favorite author is on there!