Everyone has a deal breaker. Most people it is something fairly normal, no bad breath, bad hygiene. Some people are a bit more obscure, their significant other will have to like Star Wars or video games or simply just being intelligent enough to hold a conversation.
This is what many dating apps are slowly starting to tap into, the need to cater to someone’s preferences that run deeper than just being attractive. Even on a shallow level, there are now apps like Bristlr, for those with beards and those who love them, and even “hotforginger.com”.
This was where Koob was formed, when co-founder Helena Habdija came to Manchester knowing no one, she wanted to meet like-minded people, such as the other co-founder Ian James. But dating apps do not allow that, for the most part, these days, apps like Tindr and Happn are all about looks, about sex, basically. As defined by their events co-ordinator Sophie Ashcroft, “This is a countermovement from sex, sex, sex; to books, books, books.”
Last Thursday we enjoyed the first "Liquor Library" with our lovely @mssososophie at @thefitznq we're eager for the next!!! | photo: @tomoe_lush | #joinkoob #koob #kooblaunch #liquor #cocktail #barmeeting #meetingpeople #book #theliquorlibrary #bookslover #bnw_captures #bnw_life #withfriends #betweenfriends #picoftheday #bookworm #bookaholic #bookaddict
Sophie joined the Koob team after working with Helena through a different project, befriending her and being contacted by her for writing a blog piece on books, allegedly to do with the early stages of this project.
At the pre-launch I met Sophie, who created this event as what she called a Liquor Library, incorporating the idea of how books make us feel, to how a drink would. “I want to transpose that feeling you get when reading a book, into a drink inspired by it.” She states at the start of the night.
One of the favourites there was a “Short and Stout”, inspired by Lord of the Rings, and described as something a ‘great dwarf would drink at a banquet’. It included a stout reduction, vermouth, bourbon, and once being served in a little steel tankard, you really got the imagery and thought behind the drink. Other drinks included a pair of drinks called ‘Star-crossed lovers’, inspired fittingly by Romeo & Juliet and aJekyll and Hyde-inspired drink that had a ‘foggy’ effect by some well-used dry ice.
This event was small, about 6 of us in total including a Manchester-based writer, Tom Rowe and a blogger and bibliophile named Becky. As the drinks flowed and everyone relaxed the talk turned to what this app could do for those who love books and the stereotypes surrounding them. “We’re not all introverts, we just need a little more time,” states Becky when asked whether the idea of book-lovers being shy and awkward is really right, “this app could bring us together, apps like Tindr can see guys getting rude and even a little aggressive when you don’t want to talk about sex or be open to such forward advances.”
“I can speak personally of the sexism and power issues within Tinder and other online dating apps, I feel that these non-hierarchical (in terms of the sexes) platforms allow women to enjoy a lot more power and control in their hunt for what they want,” Sophie explains across the bar when asked about the sexism apparent in modern dating apps, “I’ve been able to have the possibility to reject the scarily pushy, the unnecessarily sexual, and the inappropriate away from the comfort of my own desk, without having to test my confidence in saying no, in the past I was never good at saying no, or asking for what I want”
The double standards that surround dating apps and the youth of today are clear to anyone, especially girls in the 21st century. So my biggest question at this point was, is Koob predominantly a dating app, or is it more directed at building those bridges first, getting to know people instead of just going off their looks?
This was where Tom Rowe interjected, “the very base of connection will always need to be mutual which is why niche apps are getting bigger. Combine that with something that people treasure and I think Koob might have something special if they work it right and promote it correctly.”
“From small acorns come great oaks…and a mutual interest in books is a small acorn that can grow and grow.” – Tom Rowe, author of Alcoves Inside the Lining
At the Beta launch event for the app, it was apparent that this had attracted a much more diverse crowd than some apps might. There were different ethnicities, ages, a mix of both genders and moving around the room one common theme could be heard in conversations; books.
There were readings by two authors, Tom Rowe and Quentin Van Dinteren , along with another taste from the Liquor Library, this time, based on A Catcher in the Rye. The app itself is still waiting to launch but the website is up at joinkoob.com.
The future of this apps is currently uncertain, but given the popularity of these events and the app so far it seems promising. As Sophie speculates herself, “As a Koob team member I want to see it grow and develop in all the right ways, user-centric, fun, and bookish to the core.”
And who knows, there may even be some ‘Happily ever afters’ from friendships founded there.