San Francisco startup Parakweet has gotten $2 million from angel investors to help make BookVibe a going concession. BookVibe is a book recommendation engine that tells users what book they might like to read next.
Not unlike Booklikes, BookVibe seems to be moving to fill a niche partly occupied by Goodreads. Goodreads, which provides readers with many services beyond social book recommendations, isn't going away. Instead, its purchase by Amazon in March may be making the book field look promising to venture capitalists.
BookVibe gets its recommendations for you by listening in on the Twitter discussions of people you follow and pulling out book recommendations. While at first that sounds simple, in practice it actually isn't. As the company explains on its website, its algorithms "can tell the difference between the movie 'The Help,' the book 'The Help' and general discussions about 'the help.'"
Here's how: "Parakweet is a company, led by a team of computer scientists, that has developed advanced natural language processing algorithms to accurately extract entities accurately from the massive amounts of data flowing through Twitter and other social streams."
OK, that does sound complicated.
The site goes on to explain that of the 500 million tweets a day, less sophisticated matching would come up with 10 million that seemed book related while, by their count, only about 300,000 are actually about books.
Two side notes. One: I think I read most of those 300,000 daily book tweets. Two: Let's have more tweeting about books!
As far as BookVibe goes, only those people whose Twitter accounts you follow are worth tallying for your book recommendations.
Venturebeat explains the service further: "The system taps into hundreds of millions of organic updates on Twitter, Facebook, and more and identifies certain behaviors like 'intent to read,' 'read,' and 'recommend.' It factors in users' personal interests, their online behavior, and the interests and affinities of people in their social graph to make recommendations that are more targeted than those Amazon promotes or word of mouth."
In fact, Facebook isn't yet integrated into the public service. But to see how it works using just Twitter, visiting BookVibe and typing in your Twitter handle delivers some interesting results. The site displays how positive people are being about the book (0-5 stars of "social sentiment"), whether the book's buzz is low, medium or high, and exactly the Tweets people posted.
Parakweet founder Ramesh Haridas, who has started and sold two other companies, says that book recommendations are just "the tip of the iceberg."