Booklap is a handy service that helps you find good books. It was created by Tokyo-based startup Prosbee, which announced today that it has raised 20 million yen ($200,000) from Incubate Fund, Voyage Ventures, and Genuine Startups . This follows the previous funding of 3 million yen (about $32,000) from Incubate Fund last July.
The service has two ways to help you discover new books: The first method is based on your interests, pulled from ‘social graphs’ like your Facebook profile. The other way is by presenting quotes from books that impressed other users. Since its beta launch back in June of 2012, they have built up a decent userbase, with recent changes to their interface, adding features intended to boost growth. CEO Reo Kasai explains:
We reflected back on our original goal, when our mission was to visualize the impressions of book readers. We created a UX map and a detailed profile of how a typical user behaves, and considered which parts needed to be modified or refined.
As a result, a featured image behind an overlaying quote is now on the book recommendation page. The image is referenced from the book publisher’s website using Bing image search API.
They also added a feature that allows users to organize a reading circle, with a discussion around a specific book. You can designate a start and finish date to let participating users to know when to read the book, and subsequently they’ll be able to organize a virtual meet-up online to talk about their impressions.
The company is currently preparing to release two mobile apps. One is the Booklap Camera app (for iOS only), which has an OCR feature and helps users to scan a memorable quote and post it to Booklap. The other one is the Booklap mobile app (for Android and iOS), which gives you an easier access to the service and helps you share your reading experience without the need to be seated in front of a PC.
Their revenue streams are still limited, with banner and affiliates ads driving user traffic to sites where books can be purchased. But the company is focusing on user acquisition first, and will explore global business expansion later on.