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6 posts from October 2011

Goodreads New Recommendation Engine & Discoverability

Discoverability is one of the key issues that plagues the book and econtent world. The bad news is the situation is only going to get worse, particularly when you consider all the new publishing and self-publishing platforms that are vying for our attention. The good news is we're starting to see platforms like Goodreads to help you discover new titles that match your interests. Goodreads community manager, Patrick Brown, tells us all about their new recommendation engine and some of the complexities of the algorithm behind it. Watch the interview via this link or the embedded version below. Key points include:

  • Recommendation engines are complex -- The Goodreads engine has been in development for 6 years! In fact, the Goodreads algorithm benefited from the competition Netflix had to improve their own algorithm. [Discussed at 2:50]
  • The more you use the better the advice -- Goodreads obviously wants us all to engage with their service as much as possible. One benefit to doing so is that the recommendations served up will be more fine-tuned to your interests. [Discussed at 5:24]
  • Serendipity can be found further down the long tail -- Part of what makes the Goodreads recommendation engine so valuable is that they're not just recommending the latest bestseller on the topic. [Discussed at 6:40]
  • Categories are broad today, but... -- This initial release of the Goodreads recommendation engine uses large buckets (e.g., History, but not narrowed down to, say, WWII). Over time the granularity, and therefore, the value of this aspect of the service will improve. [Discussed at 13:45]