'Pandora for books' could make personalized book recommendations


Music lovers have Pandora, internet radio that can be customized to their individual tastes. In the near future, book lovers may be able to turn to a software program for suggestions on what novel they should pick up next, according to a report in the New Scientist.

The system was developed by Joseph Reddington, who teaches in the computer science department at Royal Holloway, a college at the University of London. This style analyser can compare different texts and convert data about structure and the relative frequency of words into visualizations, so it's clear when texts are similar.

The system will be particularly useful in collaborative writing projects, such as screenplays and scripts, where there must be consistency in the text even though multiple writers are involved. But wannabe writers could also find it helpful as a tool for comparing their style with books on the bestseller lists. It might also come in handy for publishers evaluating the merits and marketability of a manuscript.

Reddington believes that the system ultimately could be used to make book recommendations based on an automatic analysis of the text, much in the same way that Pandora Internet Radio can build up a customized playlist based on what songs a listener identifies as favourites. "It would be like Pandora for books," Reddington said.

Brendon Connelly, a scriptwriter based in Oxford, pointed out that such a tool would also be helpful when there are disputes over who should get writing credits for screenplays, because it can track the individual contributions of writers to a collaborative project. "It could help with those Lennon and McCartney moments where you're not sure who came up with what line," he said.

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