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Shelfari is an online destination for those that are passionate about books. Their tools allow you to create an extensive virtual bookshelf, and their most recently added function enables you to create or add value to an exitsing book club. Several tools are included in Shelfari to encourage discussion around books, and their inclusion of Amazon links with which to buy the books you find on Shelfari must have paid off. The start-up may have just received $1 million in investment from Amazon.
I recently spoke with Josh Hug, president and co-founder of Shelfari. (Editor note: we are have requested some notes regarding their vc deal and will update this post once we receive the update)
Kristen Nicole: What's the history of Shelfari? How did it go from an idea to a website?
Josh Hug: Kevin Beukelman, myself [Josh Hug] and Mark Williamson, we all knew each other from RealNetworks, were thinking about websites we could get excited about, and we started thinking about the best media that you could express yourself about, and we realized there wasn't a big one for books. So it popped out at us as something we could build a site around, similar to how other sites have been built around photos, news, and even videos.
Kristen: What's your mission with Shelfari?
Josh: Our mission is pretty simple; to be the social destintion for people that want to discuss books on the net, and to leverage a community of readers. Instead of publishers pushing certain books, we enable meeting with friends and others that are reading. It's a community-generated system of reccomendations and content.
Kristen: How does Shelfari work? Where does the social components of Shelfari come into play?
Josh: Users can search for a book or an author they're passionate about. It works on creating a visual representation of the books you own, and adds them to your virtual bookshelf. You can connect to others that have the same book on their shelf, start discussions and groups around these books. You can also create and augment your curent reading group with Shelfari. Shelfari also helps with some things that are difficult to do offline, like choosing which book to read next, seeing what books you've read, keeping track of books read.
Kristen: What are some of your key features?
Josh: There's a few things we do really well right now; show off your bookshelf to your friends, tag books (we'll be launching in a few days a better tagging system so you won't have to leave your shelf), making it overall better to organize books. You can export to blogs to show your shelf (this is a widget). You can also leave opinions on books. It's very interesting to see what people write about books. To me it's more important to see what someone I know and respect thinks about a book than an entire slew of reviews from critics.
Kristen: Your Groups feature is new. Tell me more about it!
Josh: You can see online grops that are like-minded. We want to make it easy for people to get a group together to discuss these things online. It's a way to have person-to-person communication around a book. We offer a centralized hub for a group, sending out group emails, finding new members, and keeping groups active. We'll be adding a way to facilitate book trading amongst the group as well.
Kristen: Do you plan on adding other products for users to add to their shelves, such as DVDs?
Josh: We haven't ruled it out.
Kristen: What are some upcoming features and plans you have for Shelfari?
Josh: One thing we'll be adding is a function to "ask a question" for books. It's called book discussions now, but it will make more sense if we re-package it.
This article is written by Kristen Nicole, who writes for 606tech.com.