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Happy New Year!

I have a present for you.

No, really.

You deserve it, especially if you work in retail or publishing.

Allow me to introduce Reading Trails, a fantastic new site for bibliophiles that allows users to build groups or ‘trails’ of books linked together by any esoteric theme you can come up with. (A few of my favorites: Books I obnoxiously insist on pushing on my friends’ children, books to write home about, and the ever-popular They Made Me Read it and I Still Resent Them.)

It’s a remarkably simple idea. Find a trail that you like, browse through it, and look for books that intersect with another trail, and then keep exploring. See a trail that sparks an idea? Make a trail of your own in response. Share it with friends direct from the site, or add a widget to your blog and show it off.

Like the Visual Thesaurus, and another of my all-time favorite musical sites Pandora, the whole thing is very intuitive, and as the site grows I expect it will become richer and richer with collective creativity. I can imagine all sorts of great uses, like book club suggestions, a repository for essential lists, and just plain fun.

At the moment, many lists have only a handful of books in them, but I know that you—the pixie stix readeratti—can kick some major butt when it comes to making great lists with substantial meat.

The site was launched in November 2008, but with the industry maelstrom many of us have been in, it seems to have flown under the radar so far. Not for much longer I hope.

It’s a great way to kick off a fantastic year of new reading.

Postscript: I know this is going to come up from booksellers, so let me say that I have already been in touch with the site managers about adding a link to IndieBound along with the purchasing links to Amazon and Abebooks. On the plus side, this site also links to libraries, which is awesome, I think.

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