Book-sharing service Goodreads announced today that they have purchased the book recommendation engine Discovereads. According to Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler, the acquisition addresses a frequently-requested feature.

“With their deep algorithmic book recommendation technology, we’re going to be able plumb our database of 100 million book ratings from 4.6 million users to find general patterns of the kinds of books people read and to generate high-quality personalized recommendations.”

As much as the book industry has been eulogized in the last decade, books have not been immune to the challenges of big data. According to Bowker, a book industry analyst, over a million new titles were published in 2009, the last year for which they have information.

Discovereads calls its product a “taste engine.”

“(It) compares how you rate books with how everyone else rates books. When it analyzes the data, it finds ways in which you are similar to someone else and ways in which you are different. It builds a web of relationships between users and books and uses an array of algorithms (sometimes different algorithms work better for different users or books) to learn each person’s tastes.”

In a note, they were more specific.

“We are using several different algorithms, including a ‘restricted singular value decomposition’ algorithm, some ‘nearest neighbors’ algorithms, and an algorithm that extracts the means from the books’ and users’ ratings, with more secret sauce in the works.”

Goodreads expects to have Discovereads integrated between two and three months from now.

Book photo by Brandon Staggs