For publishers and authors, the discovery of books is a continuous challenge. Sites like Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords contain hundreds of millions of books, making it difficult to connect a reader to the correct reading in the middle of the mess. This week, Barnes and Noble launched a new application called Browsery that seeks to solve this problem by creating a community that is recommended to others.
It is not a new concept; for example, Goodreads allows you to track your progress in your current reading, while also showing what your friends are reading and recommending. There is also Litsy (which was recently acquired by another LibraryThing cataloging site), which allows readers to share images of what they are reading along with brief reviews. Then, of course, there are retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which have their own ecosystems of recommendations based on algorithms and consumer reviews.
All those sites rely on extensive communities to serve recommendations to potential readers, and in comparison, Browsery is a bit more limited. The format is simple: a user asks a question: "What is your favorite fantasy novel of all time?" Or "I've been enjoying travel books in time recently." Any suggestions? "- then other users can respond with a recommendation and a brief review on why they like that book.
That round-trip interaction gives the application a more personal feel than similar sites. While the pages of Goodreads and Amazon (and even Barnes and Noble) focus on revisions, Browsery explicitly asks readers to provide a unique answer to a specific question. It is one thing to make a list of books about time travel, but it is another thing to recommend The Gone World for its interesting approach to a procedure in which researchers can change the results in the course of their research. Recommendations seem more important than simply seeing a pop-up book in a search or appearing in a news source. The ability to ask open questions ("What is your favorite book about Mars?") And super specific ("Does anyone have any good urban fantasy series besides Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels?") Allows a variety of answers for people Looking for something informally or something similar to your favorite novel.
That specific approach to asking questions means that the application is quite limited. You can add books to your profile, but the way to do it is a bit indirect; It is more designed to save recommendations that you want to remove instead of cataloging your own personal library. There is also no tracking function, such as Goodreads, to ensure that you continue to use the application each time you pick up a book. That is unfortunate since it is an indispensable feature in the Goodreads application that I use religiously to track where I am in any of the half a dozen books that I am reading at any given time. As with all applications, more features are likely to be added after launch after more user feedback.