The Hawaii Project: Find your Perfect Book
We find great books you'd never find on your own. Do Good by Reading Well.
The Hawaii Project: Find your Perfect Book
We find great books you'd never find on your own. Do Good by Reading Well.
What is The Hawaii Project?
There’s an ocean of books out there. Avid readers are buried in choices and it’s hard to find the great stuff. How do you find the books that are right for you?
Imagine a bookstore where every book in the store is specifically selected to match your interests. A bookstore that knows what kind of books you read and what authors you love.A service that’s always on the lookout for you. Magically finding interesting books you'd never have found on your own. A service that brings things to you, so you don't have to go looking. Imagine an assistant that tells you when your favorite author puts out a new book, so you never miss out. Or better still, tells you when they recommend a book they love. Imagine a place that’s not just books – that could immerse you in a world of books, articles, cover art, blog posts from your favorite authors, even photos and videos about authors and books you'll be interested in.
Imagine a company that donated 10% of their (post Kickstarter) revenue to help the less fortunate get and love books.
Welcome to The Hawaii Project.
The Hawaii Project will fundamentally alter how you find out about great books, and change your idea of what book recommendations can be. You won't be satisfied with "People who bought this also bought that" anymore, or just a list of books. You'll want more.
Do you love wandering into your favorite bookstore and checking out the "Staff Recommends" shelf? Giddy when you discover a cool book on a topic you're interested in? Irritated to find out your favorite author released a new book and nobody told you? Tired of Amazon telling you "people who bought this also bought that"? Especially after you just bought presents for your friend's toddler, so all your recommendations are now board books? Tired of looking at postage-stamp sized cover art and 50 gazillion reviews by people you don't know?
Us too. We're different.
How does it work?
Simple. Tell us what authors and books you love; tell us your interests and what genres you love, and every day you'll get a gorgeous, browsable set of books and articles you'd never have found on your own that match your interests. And our surprisingly informative daily email with picks curated just for you.
Ratings and Reviews are tired and broken. Anybody can jump on a site and leave a 5 star (or a 1 star) review. There's not much effort involved. And those reviews, do they come from people like you? Just because I think this is a 5 star book doesn't mean you will! And what do you do with a book with 40,000 reviews on a big book review site (seriously!)? Read all 40,000 of them?
We've taken a different approach. We start by learning about you. What authors you love, what books you've read, what books you want to read, and what topics and genres interest you. Then we marry the insight of human curation with the power of modern algorithms.
We've curated a slice of the web for high quality writing about books. High profile sites like major newspaper sites. Niche book blogs about medieval history or paranormal romance. And everything in between. If somebody takes the time to write a blog post about a book, that book meant something to them, and will mean something to other like-minded people. We're crawling the books blogosphere for books to figure out what people are writing about - Google crawls for web pages, we crawl for Books. We take the books we've found (and the articles about them), mash them together with your personal interests, run it through our algorithms and discover great books for you, that you'd never find on your own.
As you interact with The Hawaii Project, we learn even more about you. You can mark books you've Read, Love or Want, to make a gorgeous TBR list or show off your favorite books. Our initial recommendations will be great, and they'll get even better the more you use us. And, our recommendations understand what people are writing about NOW. So, if a movie based on a book was just released, or a book is about something in the news, THP will pick that up. If it's relevant to you, we'll include it in your recommendations.
Each book has a dedicated page to give you all kinds of interesting info. Is the book is in your local library? Can you can read it for free at the Open Library? We'll tell you. And you'll see articles about that book, and a list of related books that will be of interest.
The articles we find will give you a great perspective about the book. And we'll also show you ALL the books mentioned in the article, so you can see other books mentioned along with the book. It's a great way to find related books that will be of interest.
You don’t want us to be beholden to advertisers. It will compromise the quality of your experience. So, we’re developing some advanced features we hope you’ll choose to pay for (and if you don’t, that means our product isn’t good enough yet!).
The Hawaii Project works by tracking your interests and matching books and articles to them. Your interests include Books, Authors and Channels. Books and Authors are what you'd expect. Channels are topics or groups of topics that naturally go together.
It might be a specific Genre, like a Historical Fiction channel. Or something that cross-cuts genres like our Exotic Places, Like you might find on Pinterest, or Indiana Jones, Swashbuckers & Shipwrecks channels.
Here’s the deal. Subscribe to as many Channels as you want. Follow 10 Authors and Save 25 Books. Access the site and use all it’s features. Plus get our surprisingly informative recommendations emails. All Free.
If you want to save more than 10 Authors or 25 Books, it’s time to belly up to bar, pay some money, and support some great non-profits via one of our subscriptions.
We have some fun Hawaiian names for our subscriptions.
- Aloha: free. Unlimited Channels, 10 Authors, 25 Books. (shouldn’t Aloha always be free?).
- Ohana: an annual subscription (Ohana means “family” in Hawaiian. Join our family!). Unlimited Channels, Authors, and Books. We’ll also send you a mail when your authors release a new book. You decide how much we’re worth, how much to pay us, and which non-profit you want to support.
- Kahuna: lifetime subscription. (Kahuna means Priest or Expert or Chief in Hawaiian). Kahuna members get the Ohana features, plus alerts whenever your authors write blog posts. You can also suggest your book sources for us to crawl.
The funds we raise in this campaign will, amongst other things, fund the development of the premium features included with Ohana and Big Kahuna.
Real People Love It.
"I didn't realize how excited I would be to see recommendations delivered to me. I open every single email and when I see something I want to read I feel giddy." - EP, Los Angeles
" I can easily imagine it becoming a primary tool for finding books to read and, as such, indispensable. I could imagine thinking about it the way I think about the NY Times. THP is exactly what I’d want if I were working in a bookstore. It’s probably the most efficient tool for educating yourself every morning." - TJ, Salt Lake City
"I don't read much....but when I tried The Hawaii Project I saw all these cools books and suddenly I wanted to read!" - LT, Michigan
"...HawaiiProject has developed a way to magically figure out what books you might be missing that you'd be interested in... And I love the book site source list - what a treasure trove!" - KJ, Los Angeles
"I can cruise across the titles the same way I would cruise by them in a book store. If the cover and blurb interest me, I can pick it up by clicking on it. The books are random enough that it’s visually very interesting to see what’s there, and because what is presented to me is sorted by my taste, the majority of the books appeal to me. I like the freedom of not being talked to by stars, advocates, or paid critics. I like being “unfettered”. I’m tired of lists and ratings. But I do appreciate the filter that THP uses. It works for me." - LT, Salt Lake City
Don't you want to be part of something like this? Join us, and Do Good by Reading Well.
Books Change Lives.
Help share your love of books with others. Reading and literacy are powerful forces for good. We started The Hawaii Project to share our love of books and to use entrepreneurship to create an engine to generate cold hard cash that we'll share with deserving literacy non-profits. So the less fortunate of us can still grow to love books and learning.
We've selected three great literacy non-profits to receive funding. As we generate revenue, we'll donate 10% quarterly to them. (To be clear, your Kickstarter contribution to THP DOES NOT go to these organizations – that is prohibited by Kickstarter rules, and not why we're raising money. Your contributions help us get The Hawaii Project on the market. Only future subscriptions done outside of Kickstarter will generate funding for those organizations).
Our basic service is free. We generate revenue through subscriptions and premium features that some users will choose to pay for. We share 10% before anything else. Before salaries, before servers, or anything else. We're funding the rest. A successful, self-sustaining for-profit enterprise committed to social good is one of the most durable ways to fund a social mission. Help us make The Hawaii Project a going concern.
Find great books with The Hawaii Project. Support some great organizations to help others. Do Good by Reading Well.
What's the project status and why are we asking for money?
There's some rocket science web crawling and information theory going on here. But we've been doing that for 15+ years so it's not that scary. We've got a working proof-of-concept system and getting rave reviews from people using it.
But we're currently one person (we're using the word "we" loosely 8)).
Your backing will enable us to finish the development of The Hawaii Project and get it on the market in a robust, scalable way. Your donations help by paying for servers and making the system production ready for thousands or millions of book lovers. We'll hire a professional designer to make a user experience so gorgeous you'll want it for a screen saver, and so easy to use you'll forget it's there. It will let us hire people and fund development of our premium features, so we can begin generating revenue to share back.
As a donor, you'll get early access to the system and can help us shape the future of the service. The Hawaii Project will continue to evolve - new features, social capabilities, even better recommendations, more content, going mobile, and many other things - we'd love your perspective!
You can read about the awards to your right, but here's some of the actual physical THINGS you can get (note: we're still refining the precise designs for the T-Shirts but this is what we're currently planning):
Check out our truly unique Personal Shopper reward. After you sign up and input your book interests, every month for 3 months we'll send you two interesting, unique books matching your interests you wouldn't have found own your own. (they'll be used books but if you've read 'em or don't like 'em we'll replace them!).
But the real reward is that great feeling you’ll get knowing you’re helping spread the love of books to people who might otherwise not get it.
I see some rewards for Authors and Publishers - I'm an author...what's in it for me?
The Hawaii Project provides you an easy way to stay in touch with your audience, and grow a new audience, simply by doing what you're probably already doing. We'll create a gorgeous Founding Author page, showing you, your bio, your books, your blog posts, news about you, and your book recommendations.
You can see a mockup of what this page looks like below. (It's a preliminary design and may change in some details.)
When someone expresses interest in your books on The Hawaii Project, they'll be added to your list of followers. Once we know about your blog, readers who follow you will get notified whenever you post. Any books you recommend on your blog will also get passed along. And they'll be able to see your twitter feed as well, increasing the odds they'll follow you on twitter. The good news is you don't have to do much of anything. Once your blog is registered in The Hawaii Project, the rest is automatic! Sign up for the Author award and we'll set you up!
If you're a Publisher, your reward is a macro version of that, for all your books and authors.
(oh - Why do we call it The Hawaii Project?)
The name started as a play on The Manhattan Project - we're doing some serious science here to bring you great books. For us, there’s nothing better than relaxing on the beach with a great book. And we have a deep connection to Hawaii (a lot of this is getting built in Kailua, HI), and well, we just love our time on the beach reading great books and want you to have some too!
(Sometimes when we're in a hurry we'll refer to The Hawaii Project as THP. )
Mahalo to Maui native Will Weston for the use of clips from his songs Quiet Sparks and One Step.
Risks and challenges
The Hawaii Project is based on many techniques and lessons learned from 20+ years working as both a developer and an executive in the internet software industry. This isn't my first rodeo. I've helped build companies with $100M in revenue, and companies with apps ranked #1 in the Apple App Store for travel. You can read a bit more about me on my bio page if you're having insomnia and need help sleeping 8).
The tricky technical parts of The Hawaii Project have largely been proven out, so we don't see much fundamental technical risk. We have a working proof of concept site that's getting early rave reviews (quotes above and in our video), but there's a lot of work left to do to make it real.
The primary risks are around schedule and resources. There's a risk of not having the resources to support a real product with real servers for tons of real people - hence the Kickstarter. If users show up in Carl Sagan volumes (you know - "Billions and Billions") - we'll need to scale up servers (and costs) pretty quickly.
There's a schedule risk - a risk that some features will take longer to develop than we think. We've tried to be conservative in our time estimates, but "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition" (https://www.youtube.com/watch…) - or, as we say in the industry, "<bleep> happens". That's why regular communication is so important - we plan to stay in regular contact with our backers to keep them up to date, and to hear what they have to say.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)