In the latest effort to digitize the book discovery process, Ingram Content Group is launching Bookfinity, an online site designed to generate personalized book recommendations and drive book sales using technology.
Ingram v-p of marketing Brian McKinley said during a time when “it has become difficult for readers to pop into their favorite local bookstore, or library,” Bookfinity would give “readers an outlet to discover more titles and order online from the favorite retailer to support them.”
Bookfinity works by asking readers to answer a series of short cheerful questions about their interests, lifestyle and hobbies, questions intended to define their “reader type.” Readers are asked, for instance, to pick their favorite cover design from a sample of famous books; asked to choose from a list of 20 personality types that include “rational,” “adventurous,” or “romantic,” and asked whether you prefer a “Friday night date,” or “binge watch a movie.”
Based on their responses, readers are designated a Reader Type (Time Traveler, Dissenter, Cool Mom, or Trend Setter, among them) and the underlying algorithm generates a list of personalized title recommendations. Readers can then go to the list and “like” a specific recommendation, or “lose it.” This stage, McKinley said, will help the technology customize future book recommendations.
Readers can then click through to buy the books they like online via a variety of bookselling options that include, Bookshop.org, Amazon, B&N, Google Play, and Target in print and digital formats. The Ingram spokespeople also noted that readers can use the site to identify titles to be purchased at their local physical bookstores if they choose.
McKinley said Bookfinity’s technology was developed in-house at Ingram. The process, he said, is designed to go beyond picking books by using classic genres and instead focuses on the reader’s overall personality, interests and reading behavior. “The big idea here is to make it easy and fun for readers to discover the books they will love,” he said.
This reporter took the quiz and was labeled a “Time Traveler” after indicating an interest in fiction, history and graphic novels. While the recommendations were interesting and plentiful, they were dominated by an indiscriminate list of young adult graphic novels, and even the prose recommendations were almost totally young adult titles. Nevertheless, the process was quick, fun, easy to complete and generated a lot of possible choices.
Asked if the recommendations were skewed to YA titles because of the graphic novel request, McKinley acknowledged the software “is undergoing refinement. The more you engage it the better it will be at finding something you like.”
Ingram director of consumer marketing Kim Schutte added that “new features are coming that will refine the recommendations and new browsing tools are coming that will make the recommendations tighter.”
“Ingram has always been at the forefront of helping the book industry use technology to drive book sales,” Schutte said. "We’re excited about the newest frontier in that mission – putting technology to work for consumers. Bookfinity will not only help readers discover their next great read, but also help the industry get more books into the hands of readers.”