One of the problems with the book industry is that has some winner-take-all effects. Once a book hits a tipping point, it takes off and everyone reads it, even if it crap. Oprah could recommend that people buy and read the dictionary, and suddenly Merriam-Webster wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand.
There are tons of good books that never reach the people that may love reading them, so when I heard about BookTour.com, I instantly liked the idea. Founded by media whiz Chris Anderson and author/uber-connector Kevin Smokler, Booktour is described as
We're a free online service that connects authors and potential audiences of all sorts, from book groups to civic organizations, from bookstores to corporate events. Authors create their own page (biography, books, tour dates and availability) and any group looking for speakers can find them and contact them directly to arrange for an appearance. Relevant information for both authors and venues can be added in minutes through a simple fill-in-the-blanks interface. Connecting authors with potential audiences then becomes as easy as searching (by geography, book titles, subject, dates of availability) and sending an email.
It's already useful, and I'm sure the idea and the features will just improve over time.
I still remember when Steven Dubner of Freakonomics fame came to speak in Louisville. I only found out about it because I happened to drive by the location and see a small sign the day before the event. I almost missed a talk that turned out to be very very interesting. This is exactly what Booktour will help prevent.