A new smartphone app that recommends books based on reader preferences offers both book publishers and self-published authors an innovative way to reach their target audience — and sell them books.
That’s more than a gimmick, though. It reflects both dating app user and reader demographics, reports Brant Menswar, CEO of Booky Call.
“When we looked at a cross-section of dating app users, and then looked at the fastest growing segment of readers, we saw that it’s pretty similar – 18- to 29-year-olds,” he says.
How the Booky Call smartphone app works
Regardless of age (and familiarity with dating apps), all book lovers can download the app, create a free account, and set their preferences for fiction and nonfiction.
The app offers recommendations; book descriptions presented to users aren’t from back covers, though. A writing staff of 14 replaces them with “dating” profiles that reflect Booky Call’s match-making theme. “Who should swipe right on me?” asks the description for the popular thriller, The Guest List by Lucy Foley. “I love going to weddings, and this one is going to be quite the drama,” it begins.
In addition to swiping through recommendations, app users can search by keyword or author name.
When there’s a match, readers can buy the book from three retail partners in print, digital, and audio formats.
The active, current database includes 5,000 titles. After six months, books roll over to the archive, where they’re still available via search, but not actively recommended to users.
Potential for self-published authors
“We wanted to open this up to self-published authors to help them reach a targeted audience,” says Menswar, who adds that both he and co-founder Jim Knight have self-published and worked with a hybrid publisher. It’s an off-shoot of an affordable book promotion business they developed after Menswar didn’t get the results expected from a pricey book publicist.
“Amazon uploads more books in a day than we could have in our library. That means there’s a better chance your book will be matched to a reader on Booky Call,” he says.
On the traditional publishing side, the focus is on backlist books.
“The average author sold only 200 copies last year, which means that publishers have warehouses with thousands of books that didn’t sell. We’re saying to publishers, ‘Here’s a chance for us to put these books in front of people asking for them in a completely innovative way,’ ” Menswar says.
Good books only, please
Established publishers can place a limited number of books in the database at no charge; they pay the same fee as self-published authors after that. A $250 fee places each book in the current library for six months and in the archive for another six. Keep the book in the archive after that for $50 per year.A new smartphone app that recommends books based on reader preferences offers both book publishers and self-published authors an innovative way to reach their target audience -- and sell them books.Click to tweet
Menswar cautions authors that self-published books need to look and read like traditionally published books, starting with professional editing. “This is step one for us – a professional editor, not your aunt who reads a lot,” he says.
In addition, because people still like to read print copies, books must be available in print format (print on demand counts). “We want to hold a book in our hands, dogear those corners, feel it, and smell it,” says Menswar.
How to get your book listed
Think your book meets quality standards? To be considered, complete the short questionnaire on the app’s website. If interested, editors will request a PDF copy for review.
When a book’s accepted, the author or publisher can take advantage of additional paid promotional opportunities beyond the $250 listing fee. They include Book of the Day, which displays the book to all users when they log in, and a feature on the companion Booky Call smartphone app podcast. Future plans include a “speed dating” event for books and readers in independent bookstores.
“Our goal is to create a community around books,” says Menswar.
Giving authors and publishers an affordable way to reach readers is a good start.
What do you think about this new way to help readers discover books they’ll love? Will you try the app as a reader? Please tell us in a comment!
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