March 26, 2013

Ron Hogan launches “The Handsell”


The veteran New York book reporter and blogger Ron Hogan has recently launched The Handsell, a site that delivers book recommendations through video. Each episode features a different author or bookseller to help match a reader with a new book, based on the titles that reader has previously enjoyed. The pilot episodes are being filmed at Greenlight Bookstore, though Hogan hopes to film at other independent stores in the future.

Hogan wrote to us that the series is meant to be, “a direct response to the algorithm-based ‘recommendation engine’ setup that’s become familiar through Amazon and more recently through Bookish, which as several people have pointed out frequently skews towards bestsellers, because those are often the books that someone else has bought in addition to any given book. Handsell recommendations are less about ‘people who bought/read A also bought/read B,’ and more about, ‘If you like this aspect of A and B, you might enjoy C as well,’ the way the best booksellers have been making recommendations for years.”

Recommendations from the most recent episode, for instance, include Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, A God Somewhere by John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin, and Stonemouth and The Hydrogen Sonata both by Iain M. Banks.

Hogan told us books he has recently enjoyed and would be eager to recommend include Jeanine Cummin‘s The Crooked Branch, Michael Hainey‘s After Visiting Friends, or Sofia Samatar‘s A Stranger in Olondria.

Here’s a recent episode with Jessica Francis Kane, author of This Close.

Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.