A few days ago a new Danish community for book lovers and consumers seeking the best book prices was launched: bog.nu (which translates to “book.now”.) The website has (of course) been implemented in Ruby on Rails during the last couple of months by Jesper Hvirring and yours truly for the Danish publisher Forlagsgruppen Bindslev.
On one level it can be used simply to compare the prices of one or more books at the leading Danish internet bookstores. The site allows the user to put several books on her virtual bookshelf, and then make a price search showing where she can get all the books cheapest in total, including shipping and handling.
On another level bog.nu collects all the latest reviews of new Danish books, and calculates a “meta score” from 0-100 based on all reviews. This allows users to rank their searches not just by typical parameters, but by how well they have been reviewed. This makes it easy to find, say, the best Danish comics.
Taking this further, bog.nu even allows it users to review any book or title they have read. This is where the social aspect comes in. To being with, a user’s review score won’t change the total meta score much, but he gains more trust on the site his reviews can eventually grow to impact the meta score as much as the ones of the professional reviewers.
On a technical level I can tell that the site is fully PostgreSQL-based, including all search functionality. We evaluated the various tools available for full text indexing and searching, but we ended up simply using what’s build into Postgres, and we haven’t regretted that decision. I can also reveal that we crawl all prices live from the bookstore’s sites by running a separate, lightning-fast crawler application based on Cramp and Eventmachine. Tests are written in RSpec 2 with Factory Girl for fixtures and RR for stubbing and mocking.
If you like books – and you know Danish – you should definitely checkout bog.nu!