The relationship between authors and social media has long been a close one, with many of the former realizing the usefulness of the latter when it comes to staying in touch with their existing fanbase, and reaching out to new readers to win them over as fans. Now, one publisher believes that it’s time to take that close relationship to the next level with the launch of a new Facebook app that will “enable book lovers to discover new authors and share their favorite books with friends.”
The app, called BookScout and described as “the Facebook community for book lovers” whether “an occasional or avid reader,” is the creation of Random House’s Digital Marketplace Development Group. It follows that group’s establishment of websites like Word & Film, Everyday Book, Biographile, and Suvudu by taking those sites’ outreach efforts in a more personal direction. Facebook users who install the app will receive recommendations for books based upon information from their own timelines, as well as opportunities to Like, share, and add books to virtual “bookshelves” within the app itself.
“Information about people’s interests from their Facebook timelines is incorporated into the personal recommendations, and Liking books via the app helps create more tailored suggestions – the more books and interests users Like, the better the recommendations will be,” Random House explained in a press release promoting the launch of BookScout. “Recommendations feature titles from all publishers, and include links to major retailers so people can easily purchase print books and eBooks they’re interested in.”
The social aspect of Facebook is important to the app’s functionality; users can keep track of other BookScout users’ bookshelves, tagging titles that they’d be interested in reading themselves, and otherwise enabling a more organic recommendation conversation outside of the automated recommendations. Amanda Close, Random House’s Senior Vice President of Digital Marketplace Development, says socially-driven recommendation process is key to the app’s success. “Word of mouth is the number one way readers learn and get enthusiastic about books they want to read,” she explained. “By creating BookScout, Random House is helping to encourage conversations about books on Facebook, and broaded the social discovery of books in the digital space.” They’re also helping push sales; the app will allow users to buy books discovered within the app itself, with both vendor and format decided by the user.
A surprisingly absent element of social reading and book discovery is the idea of a virtual book club or discussion group; perhaps we’ll see that feature added into a second edition of BookScout (or a separate app altogether). For now, the app is available via its own dedicated page at Facebook.