By Kevin O’Sullivan
First, a confession: I hate Facebook. Yeah, I know, I must be one of the only ones on earth left without a profile, but you know what? I couldn’t care less, nor will I ever, ever give in. Bebo? I’d rather send a text, e-mail or, shockingly, actually meet people for a pint and a chat, thanks. And Twitter? I’m a follower but not a tweeter (twitterer?). Nobody out there wants to know (in 140 characters) that I watched Egypt beat Italy 1-0 in the utterly pointless Confederations Cup before writing this post. (Well, did you find that interesting?)
So why am I bothering you about Book Army, which is, ostensibly, just another social networking site? Well, there’s you, our readers, for a start. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got more books than you can ever read piled in perilous towers about your house, and have on at least one occasion faced down the frankly crazy suggestions of a significant other that you should bring some of them to a second-hand book store; or, if you’re lucky, stopped them from throwing them in the recycling bin themselves.
Here’s the idea behind Book Army: if there’s a new flavour of the month social networking site every, well, month, why not one to link you to books you might like to read? Like the music site Last.fm or a more focused version of Amazon‘s recommendations, Book Army builds a profile of your likes and dislikes, comparing your tastes with other members, and recommending new books to read (it’s currently telling me that I might like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which could just be right – I’ve always meant to read it). The important bit is that the site gives you the opportunity to vent and share your anger, joy, or apathy by rating and reviewing individual titles.
There are still a number of things that need ironing out – too many editions of some books for a start – and probably not enough users to make it fully workable as yet, but everybody’s got to start somewhere. Hell, Book Army might fall flat on its face, but just think if it worked: instead of unwanted photographs of drunken Facebook ‘friends’, we’d all have dozens more books to add to that stack marked ‘this was a good idea when I saw it in the shop but I don’t feel as much like reading it now’. Now wouldn’t that be bliss?