Sunday, September 27, 2009

Drinkers, watchers & listeners' advisory

Although I've been quiet recently, I assure you I have been reading. I'm at work on Tessa Dare's Goddess of the Hunt and Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (two genres--romance and mystery--I haven't tried to tackle here yet).

While I was home sick with a cold this week, I noticed on the back of my Twinings ceylon orange pekoe tea box "If you enjoy Twinings Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea, we recommend that you try English Afternoon Tea or Prince of Wales Tea." What a brilliant marketing idea! Keep people coming back by suggesting what to consume next from a position of authority (derived from individuals like librarians, brands like Twinings, computer systems, or a combination).

This got me thinking of other Readers' Advisory-like services outside the world of books. Pandora and iTunes Genius do it for music. And Netflix does it for movies, although not very well, I think. (Though they just announced the winner of $1 million prize competition to improve its recommendation matrix and began a second competition for an even better system.)

Yet these are all primarily computer based. I suppose a sommelier is a kind of human corollary. Librarians, too, can use databases like Fiction Connection or NoveList for RA support. But it is refreshing to see everyday counterparts to RA, a concept that can be so intimidating because it seems so ephemeral and personal yet is also complex and codified.

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