In 2007, Boise resident Aaron Stanton made international news when he launched a plot to get Google's attention, called Can Google Hear Me?
Armed with a video camera and a blog way back before video was instantaneously uploaded to social networking sites—indeed long before social networking ruled the virtual world—Stanton gained worldwide media attention with his campaign to travel from Boise to Google headquarters in California to pitch the web giant a humble idea. Just what his big idea was, Stanton didn't say at the time. While the mystery certainly helped reel in the public's interest, the world watched not because they cared what Stanton's idea was but because they wanted to root for the little guy taking on the corporate world.
Ultimately, Google turned down Stanton. And since then, Stanton has been busy brokering deals with publishing houses and working with a team of coders to see his idea come to fruition—without Google.
In August, Stanton's big idea launches. It's called BookLamp and can be loosely described as Pandora for books.
To oversimplify the process, here's how it works: Let's say you loved Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco and you'd like a recommendation for something similar. You could plug in either the author's name or the title of the book and BookLamp would spit out a list of books that are like it. How BookLamp comes up with that list is the interesting part.
Like Pandora's "music genome" approach, which essentially maps a song's DNA in order to compare it to and classify it with similar music, BookLamp maps out a book's DNA by examining density, pacing, action, dialogue and description. Once a book has been mapped, BookLamp can compare it to others that have been mapped and provide a compatibility rating for readers.
"We want to really foster the idea of discovery of books," said BookLamp's Bryan Yeargin. And that's one reason big publishing houses have embraced the concept—to foster discovery among readers (which, of course, they hope will foster a discovery of profit in their own bottom lines).
BookLamp is in beta at booklamp.org until early August, when booklamp.com goes live with 30,000 books in its stable. That's also when the company expects to announce something big along the lines of major partnerships. Stay tuned for more news.