I'm unsatisfied with the options for virtual book clubbing. This seems like a solvable problem.
The place I go most is Visual Bookshelf, a Facebook App from LivingSocial. Visual Bookshelf shows that I have 36 reading friends reading 52 books, but almost nobody is active on the site.
Visual Bookshelf is okay because: a) it is a Facebook App and therefore theoretically easy to build your book buddy network, and b) the App can show what I'm currently reading and what people in my network are currently reading, and c) the App can keep a list of what I've read in the past with quick reviews.
Where Visual Bookshelf fails is in the social aspect. Since it relies on people to input their data, the data remains scarce. Who wants to spend their time, (save me apparently), manually entering in their book collections and reviews?
Before I get to my wish list, a quick mention of two other services that I'm trying.
The first is Copia, a new platform that combines a book social network with a downloadable e-reader and an iPad app. According to the site, "Copia makes it easy to curate your digital library, follow readers who share your tastes and join discussions about books you love. Join in online or from the pages of an open eBook."
I've been experimenting with Copia for about a week now, and I'm sorry to report that I've been underwhelmed. The interface is clunky and slow. The database seems incomplete. I'm reading "What Technology Wants" by Kevin Kelly, and Copia can't find the book. I know that the site is in beta, so it is a mistake to judge too harshly. I worry, however, that Copia will not work well for someone who reads mostly in audibook (Audible) or Kindle format - as I have no desire to use either their desktop or iPad app. Interestingly, Copia announced an e-reader at CES 2010 - but this device never seems to have been released. Does anyone know the scoop?
Finally, I've tried GoodReads - but also abandoned the site when more people in my network seemed to jump to Visual Bookshelf. Have not been back and would be curious what you think.
My Book Freak Social Network Wish List:
Amazon Should Do This: I know that I've perhaps sold too much of my soul to Amazon, but facts are facts. Amazon sells me all my books. They own Audible. I have a Kindle because it is tied into the Amazon bookstore, not because it is the best e-reading device. Amazon should facilitate and catalyze a social book network based on behavior, not on the need to input data. Every time I buy an Amazon book, either audio or digital or paper, I should be given the option to add this information to a social book club networking site.
Location Based: I'd like to be able to choose a privacy option that allows my location to be displayed to people also reading the same book. What I'm looking for is other people in my town who are also reading "What Technology Wants", or whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. Geography matters for books, as I want to be able to have coffee with a fellow reader once we both finish the book. What I decide to read might change when I see what someone in my town, or my network, is currently reading.
Integrated: Could Amazon tie social book network, where the data is built by behavior, into other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? I'm curious what the people in my networks from these places are reading now, and I think if their book reading data is populated automatically (again with permissions) rather than manually we will achieve the necessary social book density.
Mobile: I like the idea of using my cell phone camera to scan the bar code or take a picture of the book, automatically placing the book into my "Wish List". That way, in book stores I could build my book social network of "want to read" books by snapping pictures, and instantly see who else in my network is reading the book.
What is on your Wish List for a social network for book lovers? Have you had better luck with the available services? Will I come to regret my over-reliance on Amazon?
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