The much-anticipated Copia book social network is launching soon (though they won’t give a hard launch date yet, but figure on the next month or two–they certainly want to have the network up and running, and their devices in the market, by the holiday shopping season). Based on a demo a couple of us at PW saw this week, Copia is going to be a very robust platform, combining some old and new social networking features with a print and digital e-commerce platform, bringing the power of a social recommendation engine to book buying.
I got an invite to try the beta version of the site, so I thought I’d give you a peek. The e-commerce platform hasn’t been launched in beta yet, so, for now, Copia looks like a slicker version of GoodReads, with a few hundred people enrolled in the beta trial working their way into various discussion groups (“Do films ever compare” to books is one) and adding books to their virtual libraries.
As you can see, I’ve added a few books (including, tee-hee, the two I wrote) to my library, and can display them in what Copia calls a “modified tag-cloud,” which can be configured to show various kinds of information. Using privacy settings, I can make my library and profile visible to anyone on the network, or not, and start connecting to people.
As with GoodReads and other book-based social networks, you can search a vast database of books and add the ones you’ve read or want to read or own or want to own to your profile. Then other people can see your library and from there get recommendations, apply ratings, add books to their libraries, and eventually, buy books.
Where Copia gets really cool, though, is with how it organizes and displays what you’ve got in common with other readers. This little diagram, for instance, shows I have one book in common with this other Copia user. Perhaps that indicates some common interests, and I might check out their library and find more books I want to read (and possibly buy and download to my forthcoming Copia reader or other device).
This is just a sliver of what Copia can do in terms of using social networking to help readers discover books. Copia is doing a bunch of stuff no one else is (you’ll hear more about it in next week’s issue of PW). The big question is whether or not the company behind Copia will be able to sufficiently penetrate an already crowded marketplace and turn this platform into a revenue stream for publishers. We’ll know more about that in the coming months, when Copia will launch the network and an iPad app at the same time, followed by the devices, which will also enable some of the social networking features.