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Random House mobilizes book discovery social app for on-the-go users

Random House is bringing its book discovery social application to mobile so that users can talk about their favorite works of literature.

The BookScout Facebook app, which introduced earlier this year, enables users to discover new books and receive personalized book recommendations. The mobile version was developed in response to user feedback.

?Launching a mobile version of BookScout was a natural next step for this social book discovery app,? said Amanda Close, senior vice president of digital marketplace development at Random House, New York.

?Time spent using mobile devices for activities such as internet and app use has more than doubled in the past two years among US consumers,? she said. ?Based on feedback from BookScout users, we learned that people love to talk about books at any time and in any place.

?After engaging with the desktop version on BookScout, users requested a mobile version of the app to use on-the-go. This led us to create a tablet optimized version in March, followed by our mobile release, making BookScout fully accessible across all handheld devices.?

Digital bookshelves
Users of the BookScout app can create and organize their own digital bookshelves and explore friends' bookshelves to learn what others are reading.

BookScout encourages organic word-of-mouth recommendations as people can share what they are currently reading with their Facebook friends, tag books they would like to read and keep track of books they have already read.

The app also provides personalized book recommendations from all publishers and includes links to major retailers so users can easily purchase print books and eBooks they are interested in.

Once logged into the BookScout app within Facebook, a user will see ?bookshelves? displayed as ribbons that can be scrolled through. The first ribbon is called ?Popular in BookScout? and includes books that are currently trending among members.

Seasonal book recommendations
Core to the experience on a mobile device, is the ?Recommendations? section which takes users to a new screen of bookshelves that includes Popular Among Your Friends, BookScout Summer Reads and Recommendations for You, which is a list of books based on a user?s activity within BookScout.

The app has also recently been updated to include seasonal book recommendations to expand book discovery beyond a user?s in-app network of friends.

The new feature kicks off with ?Summer Reads? recommendations, which includes titles such as And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hossein and Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Since BookScout?s launch in January, the number of people using the app has more than doubled to over 6,000, primarily in the United States.

More than 80,000 actions have been taken in the app to date, creating 1.3 million stories shared on Facebook.

The app currently includes more than three million titles across all publishers.

Going forward, Random House will focus on creating new ways to connect readers and share book recommendations.

?As BookScout evolves, we?ll continue to add social functionality to place book discussion front and center on our users? Timelines,? Ms. Close said. ?In the future, we?d love to learn more about how BookScout is being used and how the app could evolve to serve particular needs.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York