Facebook for (eh…) books

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Book ArmyFirst, 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?

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7 Responses to “Facebook for (eh…) books”

  1. leems Says:

    Sounds brilliant. And the site doesn’t look half bad, either.
    (ps – Glad to see someone else realizes how pointless FB is.)

    • puesoccurrences Says:

      I think Book Army might just have something to it alright. And maybe the anti-FB crowd might be bigger than we think. Maybe someone should start an anti-Facebook … but then that would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it?


  2. puesoccurrences Says:

    I love their tagline ‘never read a bad book again’!


  3. Ida Says:

    Facebook can offer a fascinating glimpse in to the truly inane ways people spend their lives. “Eva is going for Starbucks now.” Plenty of material for future historical research there. Seriously.

    Will I add a “Become a fan of Book Army” link to my facebook page? Do I want to discourage people from reading ‘bad’ books? Reading across a broad range of material ought to help develop one’s critical faculties. And that includes ‘bad’ books, which in our household prove a wonderful source of discussion as we judge whether they are awful enough to place under the wonky table leg…

    • puesoccurrences Says:

      ‘Plenty of material for future historical research there. Seriously.’

      Possibly. I’m not so sure though. In any case, and here’s the bigger debate, who’s to say there’s anyone collecting the material anyway and that it will all be readable in 100 years time? Would anyone seriously want to wade through years of posts only to conclude that everyone in the world had millions of friends and spent most of their time throwing virtual dung at each other? Rather them than me.

      Re Book Army
      I’m not sure it’s as proto-totalitarian as that. The tagline might be a little bit wrongly phrased (and designed to draw in an audience), but there are so many books out there worth reading that I think it’s worth using something that can point you in an interesting direction. That’s not to say you’ll like all the books. In fact, it’s highly likely that you won’t – at least that was my experience from using Last.fm. Individual taste is very hard to measure, but once in a while the points where someone else’s taste intersects with yours will be very interesting places indeed.

      I can understand your contention that one should read across a broad range of material, but I also tend to the notion that life’s far too short and there are too many good books out there to sit reading bad books/books you’ve lost interest in and are trying to finish just for the sake of it.


  4. Pue needs YOU! « Pue’s Occurrences Says:

    […] Just a quick post to say that if you don’t hate Facebook as much as Kevin (see his Facebook for (eh…) books post), then please go on and check out our new Facebook page, join us and perhaps even recommend us […]

  5. Pue is 2: Kevin « Pue's Occurrences Says:

    […] this March, we hope they were just the start of what’s been a great conversation so far. When I wrote disparagingly about Twitter back in June 2009, little did I realise how important it would become to Pue’s (I still reside […]

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