When co-founders Brant Menswar and Jim Knight brainstormed a dating app to connect users to books rather than people, it seemed like an idea begging to become reality. Fast forward from that initial discussion in 2020 to tomorrow, as more than 50,000 registered users of Booky Call will celebrate the app’s one-year anniversary.
Booky Call — the fastest growing, free book discovery platform cleverly disguised as a dating app — has found success by gamifying the process.
“We took the psychology and functionality of dating apps to bring books to life,” Menswar, the company’s CEO, said. “Rather than browsing profiles and swiping right on Johns and Janes, our creative team ‘ghostwrites’ dating profiles for books so users can swipe right on their next ‘book date’.” The thousands of Johns and Janes in the “date-abase” range from classics to new releases, novels, and nonfiction titles from major publishing houses, indie publishers and self-published authors.
Given the proliferation of swiping, it’s not surprising Booky Call has helped connect more than 50,000 active users to books across the globe. The company is counting down to its millionth swipe since launch, which it will celebrate at BookyCon, a virtual book festival in the Metaverse for book lovers and authors, set for November 12th.
Users scroll through a book’s profile to learn details like its most attractive traits, what it spends time thinking about and its plans for their first date before deciding to swipe left or right. A right swipe leads to the book sending a DM with links to date it: asking to “meet in person” for the print version, “keep it digital” for the ebook or “whisper in your ear” for the audiobook. Users can then purchase the title in the chosen format from Bookshop, Libro.fm or Amazon.
Twice a week, the app sends users “you up?” messages with specially curated recommendations for those needing a “book up” rather than a hook up. Menswar admits the app leans in to the lighthearted innuendo. “Look,” he said, “books don’t scam you, stalk you or ghost you.”
Valerie Willis, COO of 4 Horsemen Publishing, is excited to have several titles getting dates through the app. “The authors and readers seem to love this interaction,” she said. Madison Taylor of Page Two, a Canadian-based publisher, agreed. “The profiles are so creative,” she said.
Briah Krueger, who writes under the name of B.A. McRae, said she was impressed with the profiles, including the one for her debut. “Each book comes with details beyond your wildest bookish dreams, certainly more juicy deets than any synopsis or review,” she wrote on her blog.
Booky Call is available for iOS and Android users.