Personalized book recommendations

October 24, 2007

I’ve added a feature that will recommend books that BookMooch thinks you’ll like.

You can find the feature under the “Browse” tab:

you will then get personalized recommendations, 20 to a page.


Recommendations are built using this formula:

1) find all the books you’ve previously mooched, or have on your wishlist or save for later

2) for each of those books, see what other books are recommended to people who like that book

3) total up all the recommendations, and sort them by frequency (ie, the books most often recommended show up first)

4) hide recommended books that are not available for mooching

5) optionally hide books you click the “hide” button on

When you first use the recommendations, it will tend to give you best-sellers as the top recommendations, because that’s what everyone else is also reading. If you like best-sellers, great! If you don’t, no problem, just click “hide” on the books you don’t want to see, and they’ll be hidden from your recommendations forever (in the future, BookMooch will have a feature where you can unhide recommendations you’ve suppressed).

Your recommendations are saved (cached) in the system for 24 hours, so they will not change for 24 hours even if you add/remove books to your wishlist. This is done so that paging next/previous through the recommendations is quick.

I’ve also added a “recommended” button under each person’s bio page. This will show you the books that are being recommended to this person:


I’m trying to decide whether to keep this ability or not.

My thinking was “hey, I like this person’s book tastes, I wonder what BookMooch would recommend they read? Maybe I’d like the recommendations”

Does that make sense, or is that feature overkill? My wife thinks it’s silly, and I do feel like the “recommended” button is awkward and not intuitive. But, perhaps it’s useful? Does anyone have suggestions for how to make the link less awkward?

15 Responses to “Personalized book recommendations”

  1. Margaret said

    I don’t have any suggestions, but I do like your thinking with the extra button below another’s picture. It makes sense to me, though the feature isn’t absolutely necessary either.
    However, thinking like this is what makes me love Bookmooch. I tried used PBS and its horribly impersonal and a lot less fun.

  2. Carly said

    I like it! It’s recommending a lot of bestsellers, but there are a few books I’ve never heard of and might check out. I agree with Margaret about PBS… I’m starting to make my transition over to bookmooch only after a few months of trying both. I like all these fun tools that introduce me to new books!

  3. Heather said

    No suggestions here either, just wanted to say I LOVE the idea of personalized recommedations! I have a feeling I’ll be spending much of my internet time tonight looking throught it. 😀

  4. Mark Williams said

    I think this is a fun new feature, thanks!

    LibraryThing recommedations are nothing short of amazing… Anything which can be done to come close to their method of suggesting recs is a move in the right direction, IMHO.

  5. Lethe said

    This is a really great feature, thanks. It will greatly help people find things they feel like mooching.

    However, in my case, it is recommending to me two books that I have in my inventory, and at least one book that I have previously given away. You probably don’t want to include books that have ever been in the inventory because those are books people don’t want, and maybe never liked and are just listing because their mom passed them on.

    Also, I have done a number of angel mooches, and I wonder if those books are skewing what is recommended for me, though I don’t have a good suggestion for that.

    The hide button is a good idea. However, there are two reasons someone might want to hide a book, 1) they hate the book, and 2) they love the book and already have it. In the second case it reflects their taste even though they don’t want it. If you use book hiding as an added source of book interests, you might want to take this into account (a site I used to look at would ask you why you wanted them to quit suggesting particular movies, and you could say that you didn’t want more of that type, or that you liked it fine, just don’t list it any more.).

    Anyway, thanks, I look forward to making use of it.

  6. Sara said

    I just wanted to say that I think it’s awesome that it recommends books that are available to mooch rather than just books it thinks I might be interested but that are not on the website. Awesome new feature!!!

  7. whichit said

    It recommends several books that I have previously mooched – surely these should be excluded (in all editions). It does successfully recommend many books I have read but not on bookmooch, so it knows what I like!

  8. Kirk said

    Great idea, but how about this. To further refine the recommendations, let us check “no” or “I already own it” or “I love it” or something like that. Kind of like Amazon, which lets you check books you own. I can’t tell you how many good recommendations I’ve gotten from Amazon…

  9. Mikko said

    Hmm… this feature seems familiar… At least it’s a lot faster than my recommendation engine is. However, it is recommending plenty of books I’ve already mooched, perhaps in different edition. Filtering those out would be nice.

    Anyway, I don’t think you’re surprised to hear that I think this is a brilliant idea! Thanks!

  10. Flominator said

    I like this new feature. But I would like it even more, if I could filter the results by language …

  11. Ben said

    First off great idea it’s rather nifty. Secondly what the?? “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives” is my number one recommendation? All I can figure out is maybe it thought because I have a lot of mooches that have woman authors it thought I was a woman.

  12. David said

    I’m getting a blank page. Does that mean that no recommended books are available, or that I’m not being recommended any books? (There are over 350 books combined from my wishlist, saveforlater, and mooched lists).

    Anyway, I like the idea, but there should be some sort of message that comes up when there are no recommended books – not just a big white area.

    Oh, one last thought: You originally characterized the “Save For Later” list as a private place to store books that no one else could see. Although this Recommendations feature does not show the Save For Later books, the types of books on that list could be inferred in some cases. For example, someone might want erotica, but not want the whole world to know it. This person might only put this type of book on their SaveForLater list, and not on their wishlist. By clicking on this person’s Recommendations however, everyone could see the erotica in the resulting list.

    I suppose this sort of privacy is not really important though, because as soon as a person mooches a book, it becomes public.

  13. Tia said

    OK, I just checked out the recommendations, and I LOVE IT, except that, as someone else already mentioned . . . for a lot of them, I either already have the book from BookMooch, or I’ve given it away on BookMooch . . . so is there a glitch, are these different editions, what?

    Otherwise–terrific feature!!! And one I’ve been looking forward to. John, you’re the best.

  14. Kate Davis said

    I’ve just had a look at my recommendations and I think it is fantastic. It has recommended lots of books I’ve read (but not through bookmooch), so it is obviously picking up on my taste. I love the fact it shows how many of each one is available. This could result in me going through my points very quickly!

    Well done on a great feature.

  15. Emily said

    If I click “hide” on a book because I own it (and love it) then does bookmooch think that I’m not interested in it? I don’t want to skew my results that way by accident. In any case it would be nice if we could have an “I own it” button. Sort of like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: