CanGoogleHearMe guy reveals his secret idea

After pitching his idea to Google a year ago, Aaron Stanton launches Booklamp.org

Aaron Stanton doesn't give up.

Stanton, who launched the CanGoogleHearMe.com Web site to capture the company's attention, pitched his secret idea to Google last year. He has been in discussions with the search company as well as with Amazon.com and Yahoo ever since.

"We are in communication with those companies," Stanton said. "Amazon has been very supportive, and things with them are going back and forth." An Amazon spokeswoman declined comment and a Google representative could not be reached at deadline.

Until this week, no one outside of a few people knew what Stanton's idea was. Stanton let the world in on his secret earlier this week with the launch of the Web site Booklamp.org.

Stanton and his team of developers have set up a book-search program based on writing styles. The software program allows people to search for books in a database through an analysis of the writing style of specific books rather than by reviews written by other users, the 26-year-old project manager said.

For example, you liked Stephen King's novel It and would like a book that was written in a similar style but that's half the length of King's 1,000-page horror story. BookLamp searches a database to find books written in a similar style. The software takes into consideration tense, perspective, action level, as well as description and dialogue levels, Stanton said.

Currently, Stanton's database of books isn't very large. In fact, he said, it only contains about 200 books, mostly science fiction. But for the program to work, he said, he needs a database of about 1 million books, which is why he's been in talks with Google, Amazon and Yahoo. He said he also tried to pitch his idea to Microsoft but didn't get any response.

Stanton said one of the initial reasons he approached Google was because the company was already in the process of creating a database of books online. Stanton said he still can't talk about his negotiations with Google because he signed a nondisclosure agreement that is still in effect. Stanton said one of the problems Google is facing in creating its book database is resolving the copyright issues involved with book scanning.

But, he said, his program bypasses copyright issues because it doesn't need to scan an entire book. The program scans just enough of the book, maybe every other page, so it can analyze the writing style and then serve up a snippet of the book to the user.

Stanton said he set up the Booklamp Web site so people offer suggestions on what his company, Novel Projects Inc., should do next; seek venture capital, team up with another company with a large book database or start building its own database of books.

"In a way, this is now a 'choose your own adventure,'" Stanton said on the Web site. "We need you to join the forums and help us decide the pros and cons of our different options."

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld

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