ComicBookShelf.com Recommendation System

October 10, 2007

Boing Boing, fine purveyors of Wonderful Things, recently ran a few paragraphs from Dan Shahin at Hijinx Comics in a post which can be found here. The main thrust of the post/press release was that Dan also operates an online comics retailer, ComicBookShelf.com, which has dedicated 10% of all future sales to charity. Half will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and half to the Hero Initiative. That 10% has also been doubled for the entirety of October. (Supporting the Hero Initiative sounds like a great idea to me, although that might simply be due to my having finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay not more than two weeks ago.)

And while the site’s charitable donations are laudable, it was the last paragraph of Dan’s note that really caught my eye:

We carry a wide array of books and our open source bookstore recommendation algorithms let you rate books and get recommendations. Kind of like Netflix does, but for graphic novels.

This is, in a word, awesome.

For movies, books, and other entertainment I usually like the idea of putting your faith in one or two cultural critics who haven’t let you down very much. I’m currently leeching ideas from the superb staff at The AV Club, and if it weren’t for a ringing endorsement from one of their staff writers, I never would have sat down for Friday Night Lights, which ended up as one of my favorite TV shows of the past season.

Despite this, I also like the social-networking or algorithm-based suggestion system. I can think of at least one or two movies which liked and had watched based solely on a Netflix recommendation, so the idea of a comic book recommendation system based on amalgamating other users' opinions could be awesome. The only catch? There have to be other users.

I’m not sure how long Comicbookshelf.com has had their system up and running, but even most of the more popular comics, or rather the ones I immediately ran to look at, had 2-3 votes at the most. Obviously the market size for comic books is smaller than that of major motion pictures, but I’m hoping that more people will begin to go through the site on an occasional basis and mark up how they feel about each comic book. I’ve been burned once or twice before on comic books that I heard would be good, that looked good, but didn’t end up being good. $14.99 gone like that.

So while I can’t drive any legitimate traffic towards ComicBookShelf.com myself, I can at least add an extra drop in the Google algorithm bucket and include as many key words as possible in this post to drive some comic book fans in that general direction.