Friday, September 9, 2016

Interview: Mark from The Hawaii Project (A Really Cool Book Discovery Website)

Hi, friends! Recently I came across a really cool book website called The Hawaii Project. Mark, who runs the site, got to chatting with me and we decided to swap interviews. His interview of me is right here. And my interview of him is below. It involves cocktails, Hawaii, and obviously books. What better combination?!

Eye candy from the Paranormal Romance page on The Hawaii Project...

Okay, here we go:

Me: The Hawaii Project is such a cool website! Tell us a bit about it.

Mark: The Hawaii Project is a personalized book discovery service. It’s a great way to find books that match your personal interests, favorite authors and reading habits. You tell us a bit about yourself, your favorite authors and the kinds of books you read, and we recommend great books you’d never find on your own, and alert you to news about your favorite authors. We’ll deliver a personalized email once a week with personally relevant books, or you can explore via our website. It’s like a bookstore where every book in the store was chosen just for you. The more you use it, the more it learns about you and the better the recommendations.

Why is it called The Hawaii Project?

There’s nothing better than relaxing on the beach with a great book. That’s my “happy place”. We wanted to share that feeling with other readers.

Are you a writer yourself? Tell us how you came to love books and/or your inspiration for the site.

I’ve always been a reader. I was one of those kids who read the encyclopedia while eating Captain Crunch for breakfast. But I grew frustrated with Amazon and Goodreads and the like, who kept recommending me books that I had no interest in, but forgot to tell me when my favorite authors released new books. I am a technologist as well as a reader, so I decided to build something better.

I especially love the music playlist section you can add for specific books. Are you a music lover? Any specific background there?

I don’t think I could exist without music, and I am very omnivorous about musicI love Jazz, hard rock, classical, bluegrass, indiealmost anything. I do play the guitar (badly), but reading and music have always been together for me. Just as book discovery is hard, music discovery is hard too. Seeing what music people pair up with books is an interesting way to find new music, and add enjoyment to reading too! Your readers can see books with playlists here.

So, you live in Hawaiitotally jealous! What’s something we wouldn’t expect to hear about living out there?

Well, it’s hard to complain. But it’s expensive. A gallon of milk costs $8! And there’s scorpions! I found one in my sink a few days ago. Yikes!

I see you’ve started an in-person book and cocktail meetup (jealous, once again). Tell us about that.

Together with Hawaii-based author Stuart H. Coleman (who wrote Eddie Would Go and other books), we created Books & Spirits. We bring in authors who have local relevance, and get a local mixologist to create a custom cocktail for the event. We’re trying to get more people reading and help promote great books. Ultimately it’s about building community around books and reading. So far it’s only in Hawaii but we have hopes to bring it other cities as well.

How can authors best use your sitetips and tricks?

Authors can create an author account on The Hawaii Project. We’ll create a page for you and your books (for example here’s Alexia’s page). We add your blog to our index of book-oriented blogs, and readers who “follow” you on The Hawaii Project will be notified when you post.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Our basic service is free, and you can sign up here: The Hawaii Project. You can save 25 books and follow 10 authors, and get all the recommendations you want. There are premium accounts for people who want more. Those have a unique “pay what you think it’s worth” annual subscription (you decide), and we donate 10% of our revenue to 3 literacy oriented non-profits, because we believe Books Change Lives.

Hope you enjoyed our interview swap! I love so many things about this website - and donating to charity is awesome! Authors, if you don't have an account, Mark can get you set up (it's free!). And check out my rad playlist for Martinis with the Devil on my page over there :)


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