In and amongst the depths of the internet, I’ve read blogs and articles which state that browsing for books in a bookshop is the most effective way to ‘discover’ new books. I even popped into the independent bookshop in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (I strongly recommend you go and have a gander if you’re ever around that area) a few weeks ago and got chatting to one of the owners who specified that customers don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for when they come in and come into the store to discover.
Saying this, it appears that all may not be lost in terms of internet book browsing. Lloyd Page wrote a blog entry via The Bookseller speculating about a new way to ‘get your book to the front of the queue’. BookVibe.
BookVibe is a book discovery tool which aims to aggregate information by feeding into your Twitter feeds.
Essentially a phone app, users will be able to tap in 24/7 and see what their friends, followers and following are reading there and then. The integration with social media site Twitter (and soon to join the ‘vibe’, Facebook), is a savvy way for publishers to see into the reading habits of millions of people. Could such an app take on recommendation site gaints such as Goodreads? It would certainly boost ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing which undoubtedly has the power to make a book into a bestseller. Lloyd writes that Parakweet, the company who thought of BookVibe, have plans to introduce extra features, such as book alerts for new releases. I think this would be a good idea, particularly so readers can keep up to date with their favourite authors. I think a great feature of the app which Page mentioned was the fact that you could ‘thank the author within the app with a tweet that uses a template text message (promoting BookVibe…)’. This creates interaction with authors on a brand new level. In addition, it also allows publishers to see what authors (and book genres) are currently favourites amongst the general public. Another way which the app could be used to enhance author-reader interaction, is if the app alerted the user of upcoming book talks or events in their local area which the author (or other authors equivalent to the user’s favourite) would be at present at.
I guess one of the most important things to consider is how user-friendly the app will be. The BookVibe website currently shows an image of what the user can expect if he/she signs up to receive weekly emails of book recommendations from friends.
The use of the ‘Buzz’ rating also links well with the new ‘vibe’ feel which the app is no doubt hoping to create.
Of course, Page does speculate on possible flaws of the app: ‘The claim is that the tool can surf through 500m tweets a day, drill down into those which mention books and decipher if the vibe is positive or negative’. The BookVibe website also states that it has ‘analysed over 100 billion tweets to detect book discussions’. Page further wonders as to whether the app will have the capacity to distinguish the differences between books, should two books share the same/similar titles for example.
Only time will tell whether BookVibe will be successful or not and whether it will create the desired ‘buzz’-effect around new and upcoming books and authors. Anything which promotes reading can only be a good thing…