The folks at AbeBooks.com recently introduced a nifty recommendation service and they're calling it BookHints. The underlying technology for this feature is provided by...drum roll please...LibraryThing, the subject of a post yesterday.
The AbeBooks announcement notes that only about 10% of their list currently offers BookHints, so I got curious to see what they recommend. It took me a few tries, but I found a book from my group that is in the program: Lifehacker, by Gina Trapani. If you click on this link you'll see a BookHints link just below the cover image. Click on that link and you'll see the 6 titles BookHint recommends.
You might be wondering why this feature is any better than Amazon's "Customers who bought this item also bought" list. To me, it's the difference between customer purchases and customer recommendations. The former is interesting but doesn't have a direct correlation to customer satisfaction; I might buy two books at the same time, but I might only wind up liking one of them.
If AbeBooks and LibraryThing truly want to offer a compelling feature with BookHints, they need to limit their title displays to only those books with the highest reader ratings. I'm not sure this is happening today with BookHints, mostly because the implementation specifics I've seen aren't that detailed. I'll see if I can get someone from either/both organizations to comment on this.
My only other beef with this service has to do with the user interface. Rather than forcing me to click through to a new page to see the BookHint recommendations, why not just do a pop-up window which appears on top of my main window till I move my cursor away? I'm seeing more and more pop-ups like this and they're not the annoying ones of the 1990's -- this truly is a useful interface option and lends itself to this sort of web page feature.