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Bookish now means a computer

Three major publishers have joined together to create a new reading recommendation engine called “Bookish.” The site allows you to find books that are similar to other ones you like, share suggestions with others and create your own “bookshelf.”

Bookish joins a host of other sites trying to capitalize on the social web and algorithmic ways of drawing connections between books. One of the things I find so frustrating about these sites is not the way they upend print practices, but the way they leave off the algorithms, as though these books really are “next” to each other on a bookshelf, just oh so logically adjacent.

We really need to stop pretending like there isn’t a computer behind the book. There is. It has a logic of its own and it makes choices. This isn’t Orwellian, but it is important. Instead of allowing readers to make “choices” that are on top of real choices being made by computers and their programers, we should be empowering readers to design their own recommendation engines.

Enough with all the faux-shelf nonsense.

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