Sunday, August 21, 2011

Booklamp Helps You Find the Books You Love

Have you ever used to find music you like? It's great for helping you discover performers and recordings that are similar to what you enjoy. I've got many "stations" set up that track on a performer--or even a single song and have learned of many new artists that sound a lot like ones I already know and love.

Well, it turns out you can do that with books too! My wife told me about, which is the public face of the Book Genome Project, operated by Novel Projects, Inc.. This company was founded in 2003 to start the initial development around the Book Genome Project. which identifies, tracks, measures and studies the features that make up a book using today's massive computational power. The project is managed and developed by a team based out of Boise, Idaho, but has input from many other places.

The whole idea of a genome project is to discover the "StoryDNA" of books based on their content--not on popularity--and analyze and detect what's in there. If Pandora has more than 400 ways to analyze a song (major/minor key, presence of harmony, fast/slow, string accompanyment, etc.) the Booklamp people do the same kind of thing. Fundamentally, a story is made up of many components, but a good portion of it has to do with setting and content, which StoryDNA tracks.

You type in a favorite author or book and it will give you recommendations based on its research and its continually growing database. The project is non-profit and costs nothing for you to use. Like Pandora, the more you use it the more benefit the project receives as well. If you really want to help them, put them in touch with publishers--that's a major source of their information.

As a test, I put in A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, a popular book in the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. The major ingredients it found were Medieval weapons and armor, Military campaigns, features of the body (?), Nature/Fields/Hills, and Horses. It processed my request and found a list of similar books, including other George R.R. Martin books first and them titles by Lynn Flewelling (Hidden Warrior) and others. I recently read A Clash of Kings, so if I wanted to set up a Fall reading list I'd be set.

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