Theme-based social networks pop up every now and then. They may be based on music (last.fm), art (DeviantArt), photography (fotolog), movies (flixster) or even something as absurd as death (Tributes, Respectance, Footnote). Mainly, they’ll help you connect with people who are linked by a particular hobby or interest. But a relatively new breed of social networks are emerging that’ll go a step beyond and give you recommendations. After its initial faux pas of recommending Britney Spears to The Doors listeners, Last.fm has now ironed out the creases and is doing quite well. The same concept is being applied to books by a web site called BookArmy which is actually supposed to recommend new books to you based on your taste. Although a while ago, a web site called Shelfari had tried to implement a similar concept, BookArmy has done it much better. The interface is more user-friendly than Shelfari, and has something to offer to all book enthusiasts, even without registration. As an unregistered user, you can still browse book reviews, look at author bios and watch videos. With a registration you can add books to your virtual shelf, read and write reviews and get book suggestions. The suggestions, however, leave a lot to be desired. A recommendation for similar books to Metroland by Julian Barnes – a humorous coming of age story set in London returned books by Terry Pratchett which are about elves, magic and sorcery. Hopefully, these are just teething troubles and the site will improve.
Avid book readers would like another service that has a better recommendation algorithm in place called librarything.com. It allows similar features such as adding books to your catalogue, rating them and getting recommendations based on them. A unique tool it features is ‘Will You Like It’ that calculates whether you will like a book based on the books in your library and user libraries similar to you.