Adam Doppelt is a developer, tinkerer and accomplished entrepreneur. And he’s also a science fiction geek. Those passions all collided in a new site being launched today called BestSFBooks. The idea behind the site is pretty simple: Help readers discover the most critically-acclaimed sci-fi titles.
Doppelt, who previously co-founded Urbanspoon and is the brains by the newly-launched PickHealthInsurance, said he’s wanted to build the service for years as a tool to discover science fiction books. In fact, he created a prototype a few years ago, but shelved that concept as other entrepreneurial endeavors took precedent.
“Amazon will gladly deliver any book that I want to purchase, but they’re terrible at guiding me to the best books, especially if you’re looking at a particular genre like science fiction which tends to get polluted by best sellers that aren’t critically acclaimed,” explains Doppelt.
The recommendation engine behind BestSFBooks surfaces award-winning titles and those who’ve been nominated for major awards. In some cases, it also takes into account Amazon sales rank. And the developer is considering adding what he calls a “lightweight” voting system so users can help sci-fi fans discover new authors.
When Doppelt got the service to work for the first time, he said he was overjoyed.
“I wanted to read nine out of ten of those books, and I’d only heard of two prior to seeing that list for the first time,” he said.
Doppelt is an ardent bootstrapper and his recent projects represent a new class of entrepreneur, following many of the “lean startup” techniques popularized by author Eric Ries.
He’s also quick to point out that he has an annoying characteristic common to some entrepreneurs, noting an inability to do things half way.
“I feel compelled to finish every book I open, even the stinkers,” he says. “Every mediocre book exacts a personal toll. At this point I just want to read the best. Is that too much to ask?”