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GoodReads’ Recommendation Engine Acquisition Gooses The Publishing Game

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While bookstores are reporting increased sales this month, I foresee a time when “Staff Picks” at the local booke shoppe will soon be replaced by recommendation engines that tell you what ebook to pick up next.

Services like Amazon’s own recommendation engine and smaller guys like Booklamp all promise to let you know what tome to crack after you finish the Stephen King epic but GoodReads adds a bit of value-add to the burgeoning self-publishing movement.

The service lets authors create their own author pages and fans can follow and interact with writers in the comments and on private author blogs. You can also rate fifteen books to begin getting recommendations for future reading. Authors can run private blogs, send out giveaways, and publicize events using the service.

The service has recommended 6 million books to 6.5 million users and there are currently 240 million books in the database. They are adding 14 million books a month. The team has doubled this year from 10 to 20 people (and they’re hiring).

“We’re profitable,” wrote Otis Chandler in an email. “We think we have the best book recommendations on the internet right now (yes, better than Amazon) and we launched our recommendations in September after having acquired a company (Discovereads) in March to power them – and the results have been phenomenal.”

In the end services like GoodReads and good old word of mouth will power the publishing industry. If I can market my own books – for free or for a price – and sell them to eager customers, I’m much more likely to self publish and, although this will be decreasingly likely, work with a publisher. The old model of publishing was the movement of widgets, by truck, from warehouse to store to consumer. The new model is one-to-one and sites like GoodReads are powering this revolution.

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