By Shubhangi Shah
Amazon, the trillion-dollar multinational conglomerate now dealing in e-commerce, cloud computing, streaming services and artificial intelligence, started in 1994 as an online marketplace for books. Although Jeff Bezos wasn’t the first to create an online book market, it’s no exaggeration to say that he made buying books within easy reach of anyone in the world. any part of the world. Three decades later, technology has come to define, to a large extent, how books are published, marketed, purchased and even read. Although we may have resolved these aspects, discovering new books is still a challenge.
Bestsellers are everywhere, as are celebrity books. However, exploring titles by new and lesser-known authors can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. It seems that no online experience can replace a library or bookstore where you can turn the pages of a title that seems interesting to focus on the one that pleases. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of recommendations and reviews available on social media and newspapers, but the volume can be overwhelming. If only there was something to filter out the noise and help us discover books we might like.
Just as there is a void, there are companies working to fill it. The latest is Tertulia, which literally refers to a social gathering with a literary or artistic connotation, particularly in Iberia or Latin America.
Taking advantage of its meaning, the company describes the app as: “inspired by the informal lounges (“tertulias”) of Spanish cafes and bars, Tertulia is a new way to discover books through all the lively and enriching conversations that they inspire”. “Tertulia offers book recommendations and book discussions across social media, podcasts, and the web, all in one app,” it says on its website. In simpler terms, the app uses technology to aggregate book recommendations and discussions across all platforms, such as social media, podcasts, news articles, etc., to offer personalized recommendations based on user tastes. Not only that, users can also order books on the app. Currently, paperbacks and hardcovers are available, and the company plans to sell e-books and audiobooks in the coming months, The New York Times reported. The app was launched recently and is available on the Apple App Store in the United States. The services are not yet available in India.
Tertulia is the latest but not the only book discovery platform available. Bookfinity is a website that offers book recommendations based on a questionnaire you complete. Starting with a simple name and gender, it directly asks you to “judge a book by its cover”. No, not idiomatically but by choosing from the book covers that appear on the screen, the one that interests you the most. You continue to answer a few questions about yourself for the site to offer recommendations.
Then there’s the Cooper app, the social media platform for book lovers, which was recently released in beta on iOS in the US. The app brings readers and authors together on the same platform for direct interaction between the two. Obviously, this can help new and lesser-known authors find audiences and readers discover new and little-known books.
These are the new ones, but Goodreads remains the oldest in the category. Founded in 2006 and acquired by Amazon in 2013, it hosts a virtual library allowing you to discover your next reading. You can also post reviews and recommend books to friends.
Another app is Litsy, which seems to be a cross between Goodreads and Instagram. Here you can share what you think, like or dislike about a book. A kind of community of book lovers, it can help your friends discover their next read since the views come from a credible source.
All of these ideas sound great. However, the question remains whether apps are the way to solve the online book discovery problem. Not that there’s a lack of information online, but it’s still far from the point of sifting through books in a bookstore. Another problem here is the spirit rush. While checking out books in a bookstore or library can be a soothing experience that helps you slow down, the same may not be true for an online experience, which bombards you with a ton of information at once, overwhelming you. Wouldn’t an app that filters all that and gets straight to the point be great? Or, we can try to live more in the physical world. Better? Maybe.