Sometimes it can be difficult to find the kind of book you want. Without a title or an author, searching by topics isn’t as easy as it should be online – not as easy browsing the shelves at a bookstore or a library.
Digital start up Novelry is hoping to make that easier.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based company was recently featured at BookExpo America as one of the contenders for the Start Up Challenge. The website is meant to allow users to search for books based on topics and keywords (along with author and title), and then offers the option to get the book rom places such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the local library.
“It’s a content discovery tool and a bookshop,” said Novelry’s Lauren Wells at BEA. “It’s about discovery and how you use the engine. What we did was reorganize the way people search for books.”
Just a few days ago, someone asked me if there were any books on baseball card history (I write about trading cards and collectibles for my day job). I went to Amazon and typed in “sports cards” and forgot to limit the search to just books and was given thousands of options. So, after fixing that problem, I scrolled through the section and found a couple of books of interest.
I then took a spin on Novelry with the same search parameters to see what would pop up. Now, through no fault of either site, too many price guides appear rather than books on sports card history. This may just a problem with the category and not the search.
However, one issue is that Novelry does not have a way to not include certain terms. So if I type in “-insert term” it includes items with that term rather than take them out of the search.
The best part is once I clicked on a book, there were genre and sub-genre listed and I actually found one listed as “sports card-general,” which was rather helpful. I wound up finding books that I didn’t know existed, and I have read many books on sports cards over the years.
Now, I wanted to try something different. A look at what kind of fiction I could find. This time I typed in “angel demon romance” and 37 books came back. I won’t show the pictures on this one. The same search on Amazon brought back 1,238 results. I do think many of the Amazon books were self-published titles that may not appear in Novelry. I did look up a couple of authors found on Amazon and they did not appear in any form on Novelry.
Novelry gets its metadata information from Bowker, so all the information that is supplied to them will be consistently updated on the site, but I guess that doesn’t include Amazon’s self-pubbed books. This could be seen as an advantage or disadvantage depending on the user – but definitely a pitfall for some indie authors.
Novelry has been in development since 2011 and had a beta launch in December 2013. While it hopes to have a bookstore on its site eventually, right now it makes money through affiliate links.
“On Amazon, you can’t browse like you want to in a bookstore, and then when you go to Barnes & Noble, they have like five book on the topic because they can’t afford to stock it,” Wells said. “So there has to be a middle ground. All the power of a bookstore with the power that you have on a website.”
You can watch a video on Novelry here.