In today's world where are bombarded with a lot of information, we quite like Penguin Random House's idea of 'asking a penguin'.
What publishers call “discoverability” is the great challenge of bookselling: How to help readers find books they’ll enjoy in a marketplace that pumps out a bewildering 300,000 new titles a year.
Indie bookstores have long tried to compete on the quality of their hand-selling, matching your particular interests with just the right book. Meanwhile, Amazon’s supercomputers run through complex algorithms to let you know that “customers who bought this item also bought. . . .”
This week, the New York publisher Penguin Random House unveiled thePenguin Hotline for anyone trying to find the perfect books for the folks on their gift list.
First step: Fill out a short form online:
• Age of the person you’re shopping for?
• In general, do you know what this person likes to read? Any favorite books, writers or magazines?
• Any other good clues? Hobbies, interests, favorite radio, TV, or other passions?
That’s it. Within a day or two, a well-read member of the Penguin staff will e-mail you a few personalized book recommendations, along with directions to a bookstore near you.
The new program is the brainchild of Penguin President Madeline McIntosh, who was weary of “holiday ads that are just shelves full of books with holiday doodads attached to them that people pay no attention to.”