I'm delighted to report that at 12:01 this morning, my side-project/startup, BookTour.com, went live. We've been in a closed beta since announcing the company at BookExpo in June, and the progress our CTO, Adam Goldstein, has made on site since then, with invaluable help and feedback from our beta testers, is nothing short of amazing.
Here's the way we describe the site on our about page:
BookTour.com was founded in late 2006 by three authors who believe that technology can transform how authors find receptive groups of readers.
We're a free online service that connects authors and potential audiences of all sorts, from book groups to civic organizations, from bookstores to corporate events. Authors create their own page (biography, books, tour dates and availability) and any group looking for speakers can find them and contact them directly to arrange for an appearance. Relevant information for both authors and venues can be added in minutes through a simple fill-in-the-blanks interface. Connecting authors with potential audiences then becomes as easy as searching (by geography, book titles, subject, dates of availability) and sending an email.
For authors, BookTour.com serves as a one-stop tool for book promotion, allowing authors at all levels of their careers to locate receptive live audiences. For readers and audiences, BookTour.com makes finding when a favorite author is coming to your town as easy as checking the weather.
BookTour is based in San Francisco, the city that buys more books (and wine) per capita than any in America.
At this point the site is fully functional and, I dare say, even useful. Check it out, type in your zip code, and see what turns up. You may be surprised at how many interesting people are touring the country to speak about their books and are looking for audiences just like you.
There was just no good way to find out about these events--or, just as importantly, request one yourself--before. Now there is. We've got a good fraction of the current authors on tour and their existing events in our database already and we've adding dozens of new ones each day. Someday we hope to have them all, both in the US and elsewhere. But for now, I'm proud as can be about what Adam and Kevin Smokler, our other co-founder, have done.
The powerful web tools available today, from Ruby on Rails to MySQL, are just astounding--what we built in three months and at the cost of a few thousand dollars would have taken years and millions of dollars in the mid-90s. I'm still not quite sure what Web 2.0 means, but if this is what it enables, I like it!