Children’s book delight at click of a computer button

The Oxford Times: Bridget Martindale and Ian Shepherd, of BookSeekers, aim to revolutionise reading for children. Picture: OX64201  Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Bridget Martindale and Ian Shepherd, of BookSeekers, aim to revolutionise reading for children. Picture: OX64201 Damian Halliwell

A NEW website dedicated to helping children make the most of books has been launched.

BookSeekers has been set up by Oxford-based husband and wife team Ian Shepherd and Bridget Martindale.

The site pulls together a vast range of books for youngsters in one place, allowing them access to titles they may not otherwise have heard of.

Over the last six months the couple, both aged 44, have researched almost 100,000 titles in 1,000 collections and uploaded details of them on the website at bookseekers.com Users can search by category or keyword and there is also the facility to build their own collections which can be shared with others.

Book series are also pulled together and there is also a section helping parents of younger children explore books in a bid to help them learn to read.

As and when they are ready to read their next choice, they can buy the book through a link from BookSeekers to online retail giant Amazon.

A big part of the site going forward will be recommendations from users, with the aim of building up an even more far-reaching catalogue. Mr Shepherd explained: “It is about planning what you want to read next.

“There is so much choice out there when you go to a bookshop but it’s difficult to navigate through that and you end up buying the same thing.

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“The result is a bestseller chart dominated by the same small set of authors and books.

“But here we are building up specific knowledge of what kids want to read.”

The couple, who are parents to Jamie, 13, and 12-year-old Cara, also believe it will encourage children to read more.

Ms Martindale, an economist and student of child literacy, said: “Many kids don’t engage with reading because they don’t know what to read. We hope to give more access to it.”

Mr Shepherd is hoping to work with publishers and authors and generate revenue from advertising. The site also generates revenue from Amazon sales.

He is drawing on his experience as a former chief executive of online video games retailer Game and current role as a director of online recruitment firm Barracuda Digital.

BookSeekers is the first business as part of a wider platform, Crowdsource, which aims to expand the same idea into areas such as games and films.

Mr Shepherd added: “We are three weeks old but the reception has been very good.”

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