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Indie Guest Post: Pandora For Books w/ M. Clifford

You’re all familiar with Pandora, right? You create your own stations based on artists whose music you already like. Then Pandora, using super futuristic algorithm technology, starts pumping out songs by tons of other musicians who are similar to your faves. This is awesome, because you get introduced to artists who you may have scrolled past if Pandora hadn’t chosen them for you. My favorite Pandora station of the moment is my Ray LaMontagne station. Through it, I’ve found groups like Mumford & Sons and Zac Brown Band. If you didn’t already know, Pandora functions by utilizing the Music Genome Project, a tool that doesn’t care what singers are popular or who’s willing to pay to be “recommended”. It selects music for you based purely on the structures within the particular songs you have already marked as “liked”. The more you “like”, the more your music library will share a similarity. One that you may or may not be able to recognize.

SO… The other day I was listening to Pandora while writing my next book and thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was something similar out there recommending authors based on what you already like? Like Pandora for books?”

A quick Google search later, and I find it. It’s called BookLamp.

Unlike sites like Amazon that recommends based on buying trends or Goodreads that uses social recommendation engines, BookLamp utilizes the technology of the Book Genome Project to analyze the actual content and make-up of a book. Something they call StoryDNA. It looks at every aspect of a story from settings and pacing, to character types and themes. Even crazy stuff you wouldn’t expect, like “are there a lot of horses?”. It allows readers to get a suggestion for that next great book based on nothing else but the content. And one of the greatest things about BookLamp and the Book Genome Project is that they include everyone – indie authors like me, or the big time folks like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. At BookLamp, authors and their stories are equal.

I spoke to a big wig at BookLamp recently and I’m excited to say that they really have a strong sense of what readers are looking for and a respect for their place in the future of reading. Here’s a quote from their website :

“[BookLamp is] impervious to outside influences like advertising budgets - so it's an equal friend to the front, mid, and backlist author. At BookLamp, we're a fan of the idea that it is what's in the book that matters most.”

I personally can’t get enough of this and thought it was the perfect thing to include in Lovely Lit’s Indie Author Month! I wanted to draw some awareness to this (fairly) new technology because I can already see it being incorporated into the iBookstore or Kindle for a seamless reading experience. In my novel THE BOOK, I have a similar system that tells readers what to choose next on their ereader with the option to ignore the program (if it lets you…). ☺ Since I already went there in my mind a few years ago, here’s the suggestion I can foresee:

BookLamp has discovered that M. Clifford’s FELINIAN has a 97% compatibility score with the books in your library. Do you want to read it?

Pretty amazing, right? Like eHarmony for books. Sounds weird to say it like that, but hear me out. When you think of it, reading is a private, emotional experience that needs to be protected in a way. How often do people get set up on “blind dates” with a novel, only to type #epicfail on their friend’s twitter page four days later after chucking that heavily suggested book through the front window? It’s happened to all of us. Isn’t it nice to find a program that recommends a book based solely on your preferences?

So, how long until we can start using this? Well, while they technically began in 2003, their site went live this past August (2011). I imagine it takes a lot of work to delicately break down an entire novel. I’d suggest going there to poke around. It’s fun. They are still building their library of available titles, so don’t get upset if your favorite book isn’t in their database yet. The only way BookLamp can add books to their catalog is if publishers give it the thumbs up, and I’m sure they are wary of new and uncontrollable technology. But I say, if you want a certain book included or if you have a relationship with a publisher, get them in touch with BookLamp!

When it comes to indie authors like me, I can’t help but get excited. I can already imagine finding my paranormal YA book, FELINIAN popping up on BookLamp when readers search for books like TWILIGHT, UNEARTHLY and EVERMORE because all the stories deal with teenage girls, new-found super-human abilities, new high schools, not fitting in, urban settings, love triangles and self-discovery. What a powerful way for otherwise “back shelf” authors to get a spotlight on their work in relation to more well-known titles! I’m eager for BookLamp to grow their library so their service will be more helpful to readers and writers! I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from their site:

“As a new author, you have as much authority – as much of a voice – inside of BookLamp as any other author in the world.”

Posted on Sunday, February 19, 2012

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