Booklamp.org went live earlier today, offering a free service similar to the wildly popular Pandora Internet radio service, but for books.
The story of BookLamp, the brainchild of 29-year-old Aaron Stanton, began back in 2003 when he and other students at the University of Idaho put together what they called the Book Genome Project. Similar to the Pandora-originating Music Genome Project, the Book Genome Project breaks down a literary work to analyze the style of writing, which they refer to as Language DNA, and assign numerical values to what they refer to as Story DNA: a breakdown of the settings and actors in any given scene. To use an example from their FAQ:
Story Setting is defined by the environment that a story appears in, such as that it takes place in the forests, city, or on the sea. Story Actors, on the other hand, are the elements that act in the settings. An example of a Story Setting is the amount of “Forests & Trees” that appears in a book, vs “City Streets & Urban Environment” – two very different Story Settings. An example of a Story Actor would be “Medieval Weapons & Armor” – a physical instance that acts in the environment. To put this in perspective, a book with 30% Forests & Trees, along with 10% Medieval Weapons would be a very different story than 30% City Streets & Urban Environment, and the same 10% Medieval Weapons.
The project picked up speed in 2007 with Stanton’s CanGoogleHearMe.com adventure, the goal of which was to land a meeting with Google brass to discuss BookLamp and their Book Genome technology in the hopes of receiving investment and support. Much like how Pandora came about as a means to put a face on the technology behind the Music Genome Project, BookLamp is a similar tech highlight—the purpose of which is to attract publishers to the Book Genome technology and how it can be used to assist in marketing books by identifying what audiences will like through a more accurate system than the currently used tracking of consumer purchases.
Despite the goal of licensing their tech, BookLamp is a free, user friendly tool that aims to introduce you to books across genres focusing solely on what it is in a book that you like. Currently the service can only recommend similar works based on their Book DNA metrics, but they plan on eventually allowing the user to tweak his search results, for example searching for a book similar to The DaVinci Code but with more romance and/or less action, etc.
So far there are only about 20,000 titles in their database, but expect that to grow quickly as more publishers sign on and contribute their libraries.