Recommendation Engines and Audiobooks
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been able to find any websites out there that recommend books for me to read, the way that Netflix provides an automated recommendation service for its’ customers. In fact, there are multiple such services for movies, and one I like, Pandora, for music. I stumbled across a website, Nextfavorite, that is combining all three (movies, music, books) into one smorgasbord of laser-targeted media hedonism, and of course I was drawn to it like an audiobook addict to a, um, audiobook recommendation engine.
Technically, Nextfavorite doesn’t specialize in audiobooks. So narrator (as just one attribute) doesn’t get taken into account. Basically we’re just ranking books here, and you hope the publisher did a good job with the audiobook. Compare this to Simply Audiobooks’ own recommendation service – pretty basic – that says “People who liked this, also liked this…”
When I’m looking for books to add to my shelf, I do one of several things.
- Look for an author I like and see if he/she has any new books out (Frederick Forsythe just came out with Afghan!)
- Search for a specific book someone has recommended or that I’ve heard about (Apparently I just HAVE to read Freakonomics!)
- Add a book that I see highlighted in the SAB newsletter, or if I see a good review of a book on the members home page.
- Last resort – start browsing the recommendations on the site.
I wish I wish I wish, that I could just magically populate my bookshelf with a bunch of titles that I have better than a 70% chance of liking. Nobody knows my tastes though. Christmas this year proved that once again. So of course I wonder, why isn’t there a recommendation engine for audiobooks? I’ve listened to over 200 of the damn things, you’d think some computer somewhere could figure this out.
You can see where this is headed. We’ve finally committed (internally at least) to developing a real recommendation service for our own customers to use. When it’s ready, it will have some pretty slick features for reviewing titles, auto-adding titles you’ve already reviewed to your database, and moving recommended titles directly to your bookshelf. At least, that’s what our developers tell me. Developers never mis-forecast, do they?
Anyway, send any suggestions you have directly to our friendly member services folks, and you’ll see progress reports here from time to time. We won’t be unveiling this new new thing until May at the earliest (beta), but when we do, it’ll be worth it.