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BookExpo15May 27, 2015

In the Stacks @ BookExpo Startup Challenge

My team and I are pitching our book recommendation products, including the Librarian Brain, at Startup Alley at BookExpo America Startup Challenge, a publishing startup competition.

Help us get there by backing In the Stacks on CrowdRise!

Wish us luck #booklovers—Michelle Z. from In the Stacks.tv

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ITSApp_Top5Picks_WrappedMay 13, 2015

Update on the In the Stacks Book Recommendation App

So what’s going on with the ITS app, anyway? Let me see….

You may have noticed the introduction of the new product from In the Stacks, the Librarian Brain. It’s a database of books reviewed by librarians. We’re compiling the data in a MySQL database, and this is what powers the web and mobile apps In the Stacks.

We’ve decided to run a private beta for the In the Stacks app, so we can do A/B testing on several different search scenarios within the Librarian Brain. Namely, experiments ranking the tallied book review data, using a basic recommender algorithm (we’re using the open source H20 product from 0xdata as the data dashboard over MySQL via Python) to give recs based on the bottom third, and using ensemble and semantic search strategies. We’re essentially mapping Librarian brains based on the data we’ve collected. After we run testing and land on search results we think are good enough to start with, we’ll begin training the data using machine learning and artificial intelligence, to encourage the database to think like a Librarian Brain, and provide the best book recommendations.

If the user is logged in, the app and Librarian List widget will combine the book suggestions from the Librarian Brain with user preferences, to provide Top 5 Picks personalized especially for them. If no user is logged in, the list will be a general Top 5 Book Picks at that point in time. We landed on this product 18 months ago and I’ve followed through with building it because I truly see the value in using librarian book recommendations to refine book discovery within a larger search engine.

That’s all I can share for now. Anyway, we need time to test this, and will use our appearances at conferences in the coming months to gather more beta tester users.

We’ve also reassessed our money-making options regarding which products realistically have the better chance of attracting users and turning a profit. Mobile apps don’t earn money unless they go viral, and an app sitting in the app stores priced at $.99 probably isn’t going to get noticed.

So, we’re offering a consumer-facing Librarian List of Top 5 Picks generated by the Librarian Brain, that websites can install. Bloggers, publishers, bookstores, authors, booklovers, and big enterprise clients can all partner with us to earn sales on any books sold. Booklovers will see the Librarian List everywhere (we hope!). Other options for products generated by the Librarian Brain seem endless, and we hope libraries will benefit, too.

The apps and the subscription-based Librarian List will be available in Fall 2015—or earlier, if you want to donate and be a beta tester! Or already have :)

Please spread the word and donate to In the Stacks at Women Startup Challenge and help us bring the Librarian Brain to life. THANK YOU. I love you xo—Michelle Z. from the In the Stack.tv

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CocktailsforBookLoverscoverMay 6, 2015

Booklover Bonus: In the Stacks is teaming up with BookGirlTV for a book giveaway promo!

Please share the link for: In the Stacks @ Women Startup Challenge https://tinyurl.com/jwblwbg Booklovers, can you please support (and spread the word?) Cheers!!

You’ll be entered to win a copy of Cocktails for Book Lovers by Tessa Smith McGovern. Thanks—Michelle Z. from In the Stacks.tv

(Contest details and rules: Share the news about In the Stacks @ Women Startup Challenge by Friday, May 29 at 9 a.m. PST and you’ll be entered in the drawing to win this book. Five people will be chosen randomly using Random.org. Books can only be sent to addresses in the United States and Canada. Cheers!)

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April 29, 2015ITS_WWTCC

Countdown to CrowdRise

In the Stacks is one of the teams competing in the Women Startup Challenge on CrowdRise, sponsored by Women Who Tech and the Craigslist Foundation’s CraigConnects.

The challenge begins on April 29—DONATE HERE. Cheers—Michelle Z. and the In the Stacks.tv team

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Placing LiteratureApril 15, 2015

Placing Literature

The Love Quad was added to the Placing Literature map. Check it out!

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MEZ_TBIProfile2April 8, 2015

Bye, TBI

Saving my Writer’s Profile from IDEO & Gannet’s sadly defunct The Bold Italic digital magazine, which folded yesterday. And for posterity, here’s the piece I wrote.

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April 1, 2015

Get Into The Love Quad

Available as an eBook at the following retailers:

Apple iBookstore


Barnes & Noble


Amazon Kindle

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March 25, 2015

ITS an open book: The Librarian Brain

If you’re wondering what we’re doing at In the Stacks (aka ITS), we’re building a Librarian Brain for Book recommendations.

Librarians are book experts. Librarians can be trusted. We can have confidence in librarians to provide stellar book recommendations and content curation. Currently, there are no products that aggregate librarian book recommendations (libraries pull reviews from primarily non-librarian reviewers to fulfill user requests) and there is no consumer-facing librarian recommendation service.

In the Stacks is the bridge connecting Libraries and the outside world. 99% of the people I meet don’t realize what libraries or librarians do, or the services available online. Through your local library’s website, you can check out eBooks and download them to your eReader for free—seriously! It’s incredible that a large portion of the public is unaware of this.

Why We’re doing ITS

That’s why at In the Stacks we’re building The Librarian Brain. It’s a database of every book any librarian has ever recommended. If it’s a book that’s been reviewed publicly by a librarian, then it’s in our database. ITS authentic, which is why we only include recommendations from degree-holding librarians. It can be used inside or outside the library, online, all the time.

We recognized a problem that needs to be solved. Let’s all do our part to move librarianship into the digital era. Think of a problem, where if you solve it, it will help others, too. We’re all in this together. It’s why we’re doing this. More people need to know about the amazing new ways they can benefit from using libraries.

Let Librarians Pick Your Next Read For You! Check Us Out at IntheStacks.tv and sign up to receive personalized book recommendations. Thank you for reading.—Michelle Z. from In the Stacks.tv

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