Every so often I come across a new and novel way to promote books. In June I found No Names, No Jackets, a site that focused on serving up blind excerpts as a way of drawing the attention of readers, and today I have just come across .
Billed by its creator, Raimonds Plavenieks, as the StumbleUpon for books, Stumblary is a minimalist website that serves up book teasers. At the moment it’s drawing the teasers from Hacker News with links to Amazon, but long term plans include encouraging submissions via the related @stumblary twitter account (see thewebsite for more details).
Many of the teasers are complete non sequiturs or at best only tenuously related to the book in question, and that tends to detract from the discovery process. Each teaser looks something like this:
What you see in the screenshot is the total sum of the website, so I would say that calling this a StumbleUpon for books is somewhat inaccurate (and there already is one of those: Goodreads). The only actions that a user can take are to click the next button, the title, or the source. There’s no real sorting or ranking options, and there’s only a single sharing option (Twitter).
The site has been public for just over a day, and it’s already gotten some flack on Hacker news. Many commuters expressed criticism for the book teasers, with many of the comments resembling this one:
Fetching books from HN threads is IMO a really good idea, but using the submission title seems to produce completely inaccurate teasers for me. I’d recommend fetching the title from Amazon too, and also somehow weighting the books by comment upvotes.
I have to agree with the dissenters. I found the site novel but not terribly useful. Infact,I have yet to actually discover something I wanted to read, which is kinda the point of a site like Stumblary. The teasers come from far too many genres but primarily focus on nonfiction, and there’s no way to limit the suggestions to a single genre or downvote the bad ones.
But in spite of its faults, I hope Stumblary sticks around longer than No Names, No Jackets. Due to a general lack of interest from authors and publishers, that book discovery site shut down in less than 6 months after it launched