Suspend Your Disbelief

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Can Discovereads predict which books you'll like?

How do you decide what books to read next? Do you judge by the cover? Do you buy what’s handy and cheap? You could get a recommendation from a friend, but that can be risky.

Enter Discovereads, a startup now run by Goodreads. Rate at least 10 books, and the site uses an algorithm to “learn your personal tastes” and recommend books it thinks you’ll like. Goodreads plans to add Discovereads to its own site soon, as well.

The New York Times’s “Bits” blog reports:

Otis Chandler, Goodreads’s founder and chief executive, says the site [Goodreads] has been an online version of walking into a friend’s living room and scanning the bookshelves to get recommendations. But readers need more than that, he said, particularly now that libraries, bookstores and some newspapers’ book review sections are disappearing and e-bookstores are inspiring more self-published authors.

“This will give the casual reader a quick answer to ‘What should I read first?’” he said.

Have you tried it out? Netflix and Pandora have spent a lot of time trying to predict what users want in movies and music. Let’s see if Discovereads—now just a few weeks old—can get it right for books.

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