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Bookish launches, with some LibraryThing help

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1timspalding
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 10:52am Top

Bookish, the long-delayed, long-anticipated website pushed by the big publishers, has launched.

Bookish: http://www.bookish.com

Here are some news stories:

* Publishers Weekly. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/55...
* Shelf Awareness. http://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=1921#m18875

You should check it out.

LibraryThing data. Bookish includes a certain amount of data from LibraryThing and its members. These include member reviews. As always, this means only reviews from members that allow their reviews to be shared. (To change your setting go to http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/account). The reviews are credited to your LibraryThing name and must be presented in full. All other data is anonymous and/or statistical.

Besides reviews, Bookish has access to some other LibraryThing data, including edition disambiguation and recommendations. A glance at their recommendations, however, will show you that they're not using them "cold," but as some sort of factor.

Strategy. Helping Bookish was a strategic decision for us. In some ways, they could be seen to compete with us. Our feeling is, however, that they occupy more of an adjacent market. LibraryThing members may well enjoy Bookish, but they're unlikely to give up LibraryThing for it. The relationship offers us considerable help in building LibraryThing for our members.

We're interested to know:

1. What you think of Bookish?
2. What can we learn from them? (features, design, etc.)

2norabelle414
Feb 5, 2013, 10:41am Top

When signing up, it asks you how many books you read per year. The options are:
0-5
6-10
11-15
16+

Really????

3timspalding
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 10:43am Top

We should do that too. And add

*numbers in hundreds.

4paradoxosalpha
Feb 5, 2013, 10:49am Top

> 2

Those would be reasonable ranges per month in my reading history.

5majkia
Feb 5, 2013, 10:51am Top

I'd like it a lot better if I could input more books than just by adding one at a time.

6reading_fox
Feb 5, 2013, 10:52am Top

A link to it would help. As would an explanation of what it does?

I followed a link through to PublishersWeekly, but TBH I'm not much the wiser? Is it aplace to buy books that isn't amazon? Do we need any more? Does it sell outside of the US? (how can I find out without registering?)
Their homepage really needs some work.

7jbd1
Feb 5, 2013, 10:53am Top

>6 reading_fox: - There's a link in the second line of Tim's message, but it's http://www.bookish.com :-)

8timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 11:03am Top

>7 jbd1:

I added that after. :)

9jcbrunner
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 11:07am Top

I had high hopes for Bookish. There is potential opening gathering the information of upcoming book projects/releases and then micro-targeting/marketing consumers/users. I would welcome a service that weeds out non-matching titles from publisher newsletters for me and bridges the marketing gap of books published soon (sort of what trailers do for films coming soon).

The current Bookish website is still in dumb and low brow broadcasting mode, essentially promoting New York Times/Oprah bestsellers. I also have sticker price shock as they display list prices (rarely paid beyond academic books).

It isn't clear what stands at the center of the service. It isn't really about readers or customers or authors. In a weird way, it is all about the publishers and an outdated push model.

10timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 11:18am Top

>9 jcbrunner:

We've talked about trying to do an upcoming-books feature. It would be hard—not getting the data, but knowing which books were important overall and for you—but worth doing.

11reading_fox
Feb 5, 2013, 11:30am Top

"We've talked about trying to do an upcoming-books feature. It would be hard—not getting the data, but knowing which books were important overall and for you—but worth doing."

Would love!
Even if it's as trivial as the next book in the series you've started reading is available soon/now.

12norabelle414
Feb 5, 2013, 11:35am Top

>1 timspalding:
- I like the way they phrased our reviews. There's no doubt that I wrote that review on LT. However, they took out all the paragraphs :-(
- It doesn't seem like it makes recommendations based on ALL the books we have rated? (if it does I haven't found it) Just whatever book we type into the box, plus up to 3 more. What's the point in adding books to "books I've read" if it's not going to give me recommendations based on them?
- It actually posts to Facebook, which is nice.
- I like the way it incorporates articles of interest and publisher news into the specific genre pages. I actually find those way more interesting than the recommendations.

>5 majkia: If you only read 10 books per year, that's not a lot of books to input ;-)

13timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 11:47am Top

>1 timspalding:

That's a good point. Saying "LibraryThing member" might imply that you wrote it there. Fair enough and agreed.

It actually posts to Facebook, which is nice.

You tread heavily, but you speak the truth. Mike is doing a complete redo of all FB code right now, so with luck that'll change.

14southernbooklady
Feb 5, 2013, 11:52am Top

If you are interested in forthcoming book data, Tim, have you thought about developing a relationship with Edelweiss? http://www.abovethetreeline.com/edelweiss

I know they've hooked their system into twitter and Goodreads, so they seem open to the concept of content sharing.

15BTRIPP
Feb 5, 2013, 12:07pm Top

Re. #3 ... HEH!

16rsterling
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 12:13pm Top

There's no link back to librarything (or the LT member) in the reviews, which might be nice.

Somewhat related: how do we report reviews that shouldn't be feeding through into your commercial products? I found one LT review on Bookish that's just a cut-and-paste from the back cover description.

(ETA: Oh, and remind me again, would copied info from a book description/book cover be a red flag for copyright violation or a blue flag for not a review? Or, likely, both?)

17jbd1
Feb 5, 2013, 12:28pm Top

>16 rsterling: - Ping the review to me, please. If flagged at all, it shouldn't be going out anywhere.

18brightcopy
Feb 5, 2013, 12:38pm Top

A few observations:

* They round 1/2 star ratings up to the next star. How convenient for people who want to sell books...

* Does it include LT reviews that have no star rating? I couldn't find one but with opting out it's hard to really tell.

* They do not denote ER reviews. For some books like A Book of Horrors (bookish link), almost every review is an ER review. Perhaps LT should force a line in the review denoting something about how the reviewer received a copy.

* I see fewer reviews at bookish for the same work at LT. I'm sure some of that is people who have opted out of review sharing. But other than that, are reviews filtered? Does it use the exact same LTFL filter, or are there differences? Any censoring (both review-wide and of individual words)?

* Following on from that, I note a missing bluetyson review. He's the last person I'd expect to opt-out. Could it be the URL causing the review to be kicked out?

* I note 878 reviews for Harry Potter #1 on LT and 202 on Bookish.

* They could change "LibraryThing user" to "From LibraryThing" to address the points above.

* They've made a giant "Most Helpful" sort button. Does it use LT thumbs (which have "helpful" right there in the popup hint name, despite the epic arguments about whether review thumbs are in any way related to "helpfulness") at all? From what I can see, it doesn't. They appear to have their own internal helpfulness voting and reviews are so far you get order by most recent for both sorts.

* At three reviews per page, they don't seem to really want you to bother with reading many reviews. Especially considering that (much like LT) there is no way to sort by star rating (if present) so you can actually find what some people who did NOT like the book have to say.

19gilroy
Feb 5, 2013, 1:16pm Top

I didn't create an account, so I didn't explore deep. But when I looked at the "Partners" link, it didn't show LT at all. Is this a purposeful oversight?

20kakaner
Feb 5, 2013, 1:19pm Top

Hey LT you are right-- your reviews, edition disambiguation and recommendations are all key factors. I would never give up LT (as I don't believe in giving up good services anyway) in favor of Bookish, but see Bookish and LT as complementary destinations that may very well appeal to different segments of readers.

Thank you for your help launching Bookish!!

21gilroy
Feb 5, 2013, 1:25pm Top

Since this is a commercial entity, I'm sure my reviews won't travel across the electrical river, but I decided to explore a book I had reviewed.

C J Cherryh's Downbelow Station.

Noticed:
30 reviews on LT, 9 in Bookish.
Noticed no reviews less than 3 stars made it across.
No reviews that included exterior links.

Not sure how many of these are due to the opt out situation (like mine)...

22timspalding
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 1:35pm Top

I'm sure some of that is people who have opted out of review sharing.

A distinct minority. I think something else is going on, perhaps it's ratings, as you say. And I agree that external reviews may also play a factor—we filter them out of our reviews product for libraries too. I don't know the answer.

They could change "LibraryThing user" to "From LibraryThing" to address the points above.

Meh. You need the name. From LibraryThing timspalding? TimSpalding (from LibraryThing)? I don't see a better way.

I didn't create an account, so I didn't explore deep. But when I looked at the "Partners" link, it didn't show LT at all. Is this a purposeful oversight?

They're all publishing partners, if I'm not mistaken. Bookish's great strength is that they were created by and are, it seems, very much supported by publishers. This opens a lot of things for them—publishers have punched WAY below their weight online—and one of the reasons I'm bullish on them long-term.

kakaner

Glad to see it. Your design choices are never going to be ours, but I think we could learn a lot from you. (We did just that this morning with the whole team.)

23lilithcat
Feb 5, 2013, 1:38pm Top

> 18

* Does it include LT reviews that have no star rating?

No. I did not opt out, and none of my reviews appear to be there. I never use star ratings. Coincidence? I think not.

* At three reviews per page, they don't seem to really want you to bother with reading many reviews.

And the way the page jumps when you go to the next group of reviews is really annoying.

24lilithcat
Feb 5, 2013, 1:41pm Top

> 1

We're interested to know:

1. What you think of Bookish?
2. What can we learn from them? (features, design, etc.)


1. Not much. It's a garish, ugly website. So much so that I spent little time exploring it. I can't imagine anyone who likes this site preferring Bookish!

2. In terms of design, just do the opposite.

25eromsted
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 1:58pm Top

The recommendation search has a very limited selection of books. And when it doesn't have your book nothing happens. There is no message telling you that the search failed, it just sits there.

I entered a few books on my shelf. Now what? I don't see any features linked to the books I have entered. The selection here is limited as well, though I managed to enter a few books for which there are no recommendations.

I don't see anything on Bookish that interests me whatsoever.

26andyl
Feb 5, 2013, 2:13pm Top

Initial comments.

1) Obviously a US thing. So as a non-US LTer not so relevant to me as some
2) Performance seemed lacking - example when I searched for Iain M. Banks

27timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 2:38pm Top

>2 norabelle414:

1. Reinforces my long-standing belief that we need a much shorter top register. For a site about the quidity of books, our logo is just taking too much damn room.

2. I like the simplicity of their "sharing" indicator—it's green when what you do gets shared to FB (or Twitter). Our default could never be the opposite (ie., sharing off by default), but I like the simplicity of it. Frankly, I wish EVERY side had a simple indicator of whether you were broadcasting or not…



3. We could do this. I think we might want to.



4. Abby liked—and I agree—that, even when they don't have recommendations for a book, they have a section for "more by this author." I'm not positive this is right for LT, but it prevents "oh shit, what do I click now."

5. The sites are very different, but we need to leverage some of the work we do with author interviews better.

28brightcopy
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 3:33pm Top

#22 by timspalding> Meh. You need the name. From LibraryThing timspalding? TimSpalding (from LibraryThing)? I don't see a better way.

Huh? I feel like we're talking about two different things. Right now, the site shows:
December 19, 2012
RAVENSFAN
LibraryThing User
My suggestion was
December 19, 2012
RAVENSFAN
From LibraryThing

ETA: You know, now that I look back at your post #13, I have no idea what you were even saying. The only message you quoted was your own (#1). I thought someone above was complaining about the phrasing "LibraryThing User" on the bookish review. But you said "LibraryThing MEMBER". So I really just don't know what we're talking about...

29jcbrunner
Feb 5, 2013, 3:44pm Top

Bookish.com clearly isn't bookish or for the bookish. The first suggestion for "Lincoln" is - "Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", likewise "Gettysburg" - "Gettysburg" by disgraced speaker Gingrich. Not sure whether the basic search engine is bad or whether it wants to appeal to 'Murika.

The site is also not very generous towards the non-participating large publishing houses.

30norabelle414
Feb 5, 2013, 3:45pm Top

They have Soulless the Manga, but not Soulless . . .

31timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 3:57pm Top

They have Soulless
http://www.bookish.com/books/347e1646-7a0f-4ae0-8750-7d8ea616ebe9

They just don't have it in their recommendations engine. In fairness, they're marked that as beta.

32paradoxosalpha
Feb 5, 2013, 4:02pm Top

> 12

Yes, the missing paragraph breaks make the longer reviews almost unreadable.

33norabelle414
Feb 5, 2013, 4:06pm Top

>31 timspalding: Ah. I see it now. I was just looking at recommendations. On the home page I do not see where the recommendations box is marked as beta.

34brightcopy
Feb 5, 2013, 4:19pm Top

#29 by jcbrunner> Not sure LT would really want to get into a search results contest with anyone.

http://www.librarything.com/search.php?search=Moby-Dick&searchtype=work&...

I could post different "interesting" results all day. ;)

35MarthaJeanne
Feb 5, 2013, 4:24pm Top

I checked, I am opted in, and they don't seem to be using my reviews, even on books where they have no reviews. No idea whether that is LT or them.

I see absolutely no reason to use bookish, in fact I am rather confused about what the purpose of it is supposed to be. I might see more if I signed up, but without seeing anything worthwhile, why should I bother.

36jcbrunner
Feb 5, 2013, 4:31pm Top

>34 brightcopy: Ouch! I search LT mostly via Google - which catches the white one with the first shot (and is also very lenient towards my typos).

37jcbrunner
Feb 5, 2013, 4:35pm Top

A major functional failing of Bookish is that you can't undo/clear a rating, you can only change the level of stars. I actually wanted to rate an adjacent book. Somehow, that rating was added to the other book which is now stuck with the rating.

38GwenH
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 10:22am Top

My first try to see what Bookish is about (since it's not obvious what new it offers, or even what it offers, at first glance) was to do a search on the book I just received and reviewed with ER. Menial is available for sale on Amazon, but Bookish does not acknowledge its existence no matter how I try to enter it into the search. If it's because its a small press, and Bookish doesn't include those, then I consider the value of the website limited. If it's something else, then it should at least return a message. It appeared to go into some kind of infinite loop.

We're interested to know:

1. What you think of Bookish?
My first impression was - oh no not another. I am also put off by websites that are heavy on graphics and popups and you have to dig around to find any text explaning who they are and what they are for.

2. What can we learn from them? (features, design, etc.)
Please don't! I value substance over flashy tweedly stuff. It's refreshing to be at websites that stick to the business at hand.

39timspalding
Feb 5, 2013, 5:29pm Top

Not sure LT would really want to get into a search results contest with anyone

Yeah.

40prosfilaes
Feb 5, 2013, 6:28pm Top

I doubt I will ever go back after today. The recommendations are nothing impressive, and don't exist for half the books I've read this year. They're not merging Spanish and English versions, which makes sense, except that the audience that looks at Fifty Shades of Grey who wants to see a Spanish translation wants to see Cincuenta sombras de Grey (the Spanish translation), not Cincuenta sombras mas oscuras, the sequel.

As for recommendations, may I mention that I consider LT's People with this book also have... (more common) and People with this book also have... (more obscure) reliably seem to hit right on. The top recommendations for LotR at LT offer "To Kill a Mockingbird"; the furthest off-course those two get is The Foundation Trilogy and The Three Musketeers, both which work. Bookish doesn't offer enough to really compare, but the couple they do feel like fantasy they want to push.

41lorax
Feb 5, 2013, 6:33pm Top

18>

Bluetyson's reviews may well be stopped by a length filter.

42jjmcgaffey
Feb 5, 2013, 6:42pm Top

I can't figure out how to add a book - though apparently there's a side other than the recommendations, which I didn't find (even though I signed up). I entered a book into the recommendations and it apparently didn't know it - as someone else said above, it just sat there and did nothing. Hellspark - they only have one book by Janet Kagan, not including that. I entered another, Space Viking by H. Beam Piper and it had it - no cover and no recommendations, but it's there. Currently published books show up a lot more (not a surprise, since this is a publisher-driven site). If it gets more books, and more older books, it might be interesting - certainly I agreed with its recommendations on the few books I entered that it did know.

43tottman
Feb 5, 2013, 8:04pm Top

I like the look of the site. The articles and features were nice, we'll have to see how often they have new material there. The book listings are a little thin and I hope they'll find a way to focus more on upcoming books. It's obviously a work in progress, at least title-wise, but the look and feel of it is interesting. We'll see if I keep coming back to it after a few days, but for now it's bookmarked.

44VivienneR
Feb 5, 2013, 8:23pm Top

I signed up at Bookish, just to see what it was all about. I found it to be underwhelming. Even "unexceptional' is on the flattering side.

I agree with #35 from MarthaJeanne: I see no reason to use bookish. I too am confused about the purpose of it. I just don't see the point.

45AsYouKnow_Bob
Feb 5, 2013, 9:49pm Top

I am not the target audience.

(e.g.: They have 18 'subject' categories; "Comics and Graphic Novels" is one of them, but "Science" is not.)

That said, it could be worse. I poked around and actually learned a couple things.

46paradoxosalpha
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 10:15pm Top

I don't have a phone with a browser, so I can't be sure. But it looks to me like that site was designed for phones/tablets first and desk/laptops second.

47_Zoe_
Feb 5, 2013, 10:26pm Top

For review settings, is this a commercial site?

The site in general is underwhelming. The recommendations are decent for the couple of books I checked, but there just weren't enough of them to justify visiting another site. And it wasn't immediately clear why else I might want to go there.

48keristars
Feb 5, 2013, 10:46pm Top

One of my twitter acquaintances, who uses Goodreads, also couldn't figure out what the site is supposed to do, and she's only seen it from people saying "oh, look, Bookish?" - none of the kind of intro we have here.

I'm very interested to see if it takes off at all. I poked around a little bit, but it doesn't seem to work right for me. I turned on the various javascript things, but the front page still looks all mixed up. So I'm not going to really explore much further until it gets settled.

49bestem
Feb 6, 2013, 1:43am Top

A major functional failing of Bookish is that you can't undo/clear a rating, you can only change the level of stars. I actually wanted to rate an adjacent book. Somehow, that rating was added to the other book which is now stuck with the rating.

I did the same thing, and I sent them feedback about it. I got this back in reply:
"Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate customer input regarding new features and changes to our web site.

This problem will be forwarded to our Bookish Team for investigation."

They looked at it closely enough to tell that it was a feature request, but I'm not sure if that was a form letter response or not.

50bestem
Feb 6, 2013, 1:45am Top

I can't figure out how to add a book

Apparently by rating a book. It doesn't appear as though there's a way to add one sans star rating.

51jjmcgaffey
Feb 6, 2013, 3:03am Top

50> ? I enter Hellspark into the search field, and it finds lots of books with Hell in the titles, but not Janet Kagan's Hellspark. I don't see any way to actually add a book that they haven't entered themselves. So I can't rate it, because it isn't offered for rating.

52AnnieMod
Feb 6, 2013, 3:25am Top

First impression: Ugly...
It looks like someone's personal blog (where the user has no clue what they are doing and just kept adding more and more pictures and sections.

I suspect I am not the audience they are after... but I am not sure I am even going to look into the site again...

53southernbooklady
Feb 6, 2013, 8:41am Top

Tim, I spent some time on the site yesterday at the behest of a couple of authors who were encouraging their readers to check it out, rate and review their books, etc. As a datageek it was a little like trying to use an Easy Bake oven after being used to a restaurant kitchen, but I did think it was relatively simple to use. And while I'm not a fan of mouseover popups, (on facebook I can barely navigate around them) or the slip-slidey "2.0" layout, I did like the way it brought what I might, as a bookseller, call "consumer marketing information" in one easy-access package. I liked its integration with facebook, pinterest, etc. And I liked how it was easy to rate, review, quote, etc all from one page. It's an improvement on Goodreads on that score, which is I suppose what they were going for. I also appreciated the limited social interaction--on GR I'm bombarded daily by people requesting I join this or that group, etc. (not so much here, maybe because people don't like what I have to say!). But I was glad they left all that reader-to-reader stuff to sites like facebook.

I'm guessing that since you see it as an "adjacent" market you are looking at it as either a way to better use LT's own extensive reviewing pool or you see it as a potential recruitment tool. The former seems obvious to me, but it's hard to see how the latter would work since it seems a bit of a one way street.

54Topper
Feb 6, 2013, 10:02am Top

I'm not sure what it's supposed to be. It looks like it's designed for booksellers. Also I typed in the short title of a book into the recommendations engine, and it brought back completely wrong recommendations. So then I typed in the full title of the book, and it did nothing. So I spent minutes refreshing the browser trying to get it to work, etc. And then I realized that the problem was with the recommendations engine itself. I guess I confused it. I tried this with two books. Each semi-scholarly but not overly obscure.

55Topper
Feb 6, 2013, 10:14am Top

Also, the search appears to be entirely keyword-based. If I look for a book on "Danish language" the first result is a handbook to the TV show "Forbrydelsen." The second result is the translation of a book originally written in Danish. It doesn't seem to understand the concept of "aboutness," which Amazon (for example) does very well.

57fredbacon
Feb 6, 2013, 10:30am Top

52> "First impression: Ugly...
It looks like someone's personal blog (where the user has no clue what they are doing and just kept adding more and more pictures and sections."

Wait. Are you talking about Bookish or LibraryThing? Don't get me wrong, I love LT, but to quote Glenn Hetrick, "it punches you in the face with how bad it is." The strength of LT is its data. Substance trumps style in my opinion, but at least a little style would be nice.

It's not MySpace bad, but the design here is amateurish at best. I recognize the problem because everything I do comes out looking like this site. But at least I know that I am not a graphic designer.

58timspalding
Feb 6, 2013, 10:39am Top

For review settings, is this a commercial site?

Yes. Non-commercial is libraries, basically.

But it looks to me like that site was designed for phones/tablets first and desk/laptops second.

I don't think so. It does have a fixed-middle design, which is much easier to design for, both screen and mobile, that what we have—where the website expands to the entire screen width. But that's a very common design choice. Facebook is fixed-middle too, with the sidebar stapled to the right side.

It looks like it's designed for booksellers

Interesting. Why do you think so?

59timspalding
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 10:42am Top

Wait. Are you talking about Bookish or LibraryThing? Don't get me wrong, I love LT, but to quote Glenn Hetrick, "it punches you in the face with how bad it is." The strength of LT is its data. Substance trumps style in my opinion, but at least a little style would be nice.

It's not MySpace bad, but the design here is amateurish at best. I recognize the problem because everything I do comes out looking like this site. But at least I know that I am not a graphic designer.


I don't disagree with this. I do think we do one thing right—we are data dense. Not everyone wants data density, but some do, and—to my mind—most sites these days are aimed too "low." They're beautiful but fluffy. We're not beautiful, but we're not fluffy.

A design redo is high on our list. We need to find someone who is both a good designer and one comfortable with high data density. This is quite rare, actually.

Bookish's design choices are never going to be ours, but, for what it is, I think it's quite attractive.

60Collectorator
Feb 6, 2013, 11:26am Top

I wouldn't care if LT was solid black type on white paper and looked like a generic saltine box. Data Data Data!

61Topper
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 11:30am Top

@58. "Interesting. Why do you think so?"

When I got to the site, there was just fluff above the fold, so when I went below the fold, I was presented with presented with "New Releases," "Best Sellers," and a topical interest section ("Black History Month" in this case). That's how bookshops stock their entryway tables, but it has nothing to do with individual readers. And then their book recommendation engine doesn't seem to work, as if they didn't even test it. And if they want book geeks to take a look at that and say "yes this speaks to me! let me go rate some books and add them to my bookshelf!" I don't think it will work.

If I were designing the site for readers, I would focus it on what publishers ought to be able to do best, which is knowing which books are coming out and then building an audience for them based on specific reader interest. You would have reviews and ratings and previews of all the books in your favorite little niches, and interviews with the authors. But if I haven't said that I like Jackie Collins and Michael Bolton, why is it wasting my eyeballs on those if it wants me to buy books? So at first glance it just looks like another mass-marketing Bookpage kind of site.

Sorry for ranting. To me the site just doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.

62paradoxosalpha
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 11:32am Top

> 61 But if I haven't said that I like Jackie Collins and Michael Bolton, why is it wasting my eyeballs on those if it wants me to buy books?

Let alone Glenn Beck, whose divisive phiz was on one of four large covers first presented to me as I surfed in!

63BarkingMatt
Feb 6, 2013, 11:42am Top

Other than that it's bone ugly: what is it supposed to do? If it hadn't been for the linking form LT I wouldn't even have tried. But, okay, I'll play. I tried some titles in "Books you'll love" - and not just obscure titles. Nada, zilch, nothing...

Being European I'm probably not the target audience, but my impression: that site is crap.

64lilithcat
Feb 6, 2013, 12:25pm Top

> 57

I don't know who Glenn Hetrick is, but he's wrong. LT's style is one of the most attractive I've seen on the Internet. It's simple and clean, with few graphics to intrude on the experience. It's one of the things I like best about the site!

65timspalding
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 12:28pm Top

De gustibus non est disputandum…

Nevertheless, it is FREQUENTLY mentioned.

66tottman
Feb 6, 2013, 12:33pm Top

Wow. I love LT, but if it were a kid, you'd have to tie a steak to its head to get the dog to play with it. Pretty it ain't.

I think Bookish looks nice. I like the logo and the fonts and I like the larger images. It's not content rich, but I find it fairly easy to navigate so far. It's geared to pushing books so I'm not surprised that bestsellers and popular novels dominate right now. Maybe that will change, maybe it won't. One of the things I would like to see on LT is some larger images on book covers in some places. I'm of two minds on some of the rollover information that pops up on the book images. Sometimes I like it, other times it can be annoying.

67timspalding
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 12:37pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

68andyl
Feb 6, 2013, 12:39pm Top

#65

Well with a data-heavy site it is almost impossible to get it to be as visually orientated as some people want.

I think it is possible for a refresh of the look&feel here which maintains the data-dense display but without it adding too many graphical frills - just cleaning stuff up a bit, and keeping everything consistent everywhere. But I think you are going to have to have courage and go with your own ideas - there will be so much wailing and gnashing of teeth at any proposed suggestion that you will probably feel unable to proceed.

69brightcopy
Feb 6, 2013, 12:41pm Top

I can see the criticism of LT's design. It's how the internet used to be, before browsers had a lot of the capabilities they have now and designers knew how to use them. So visually, the site is definitely less rich than many others.

For some people, that makes the site easier to use and they would hate to have to wade through all the "visual richness" to be able to find what they're looking for. For others the density will overload them and make the site less easy to use and they would like things pared down and simplified.

As Tim alludes to, it's a matter of taste. But it's also a matter of "one size doesn't fit all." Another phrase applies - "It is what it is." LT's userbase is heavily made up of people who like the LT site design. Most (though not all) who absolutely hate it left for GoodReads or friends. So LT's userbase is self-selected to the group of people who are most likely going to fit into the "information dense, artistically sparse" shoe. While I think there's places where we can add a few racing stripes (e.g. more use of cover thumbnails), it'd be a catastrophe to go swapping out the shoe for one that doesn't fit the current users.

70Felagund
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 12:55pm Top

> 1. What you think of Bookish?

Not interested at all. I don't need any more book suggestions, it's already too easy to find new books that I'd like to read and my TBR pile is so high that it will probably be toppled by asteroid 2012 DA14 in a couple of days http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2012-da14-will-pass-very-close-to-earth-in-20... .

> 2. What can we learn from them? (features, design, etc.)

At first sight, nothing I'd care about. Please return to re-engineering "Add Book" and find some time make work relationships more useful, too ;-)

71kgodey
Feb 6, 2013, 1:22pm Top

Bookish seems okay for what it is, but I don't think there's a lot that should influence LT. I guess it depends on what your goals are for LT's future, though – are you looking to make it more accessible to non-data geeks, or change the LT audience in some other way? Or are you just looking for small UX tweaks?

Some additional notes:

* The Bookish design is terrible – it looks more like a print design than a web design – too many fonts and textures, and way too many focal points. I don't think LT's design is going to win any awards, but it's very functional and that's what matters.

* Bookish seems focused on casual readers (based on the choice of featured books and the intro questions) – the site reminds me of a Barnes and Noble display. I don't think casual readers care enough to join a community all about books, but I might be wrong.

* The recommendation engine still appears to be in its infancy – I'll have to look at it in a few months to see if it actually works.

* The "promoted books" are very distracting – they look too much like banner ads.

72kgodey
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 1:30pm Top

If you're looking for generic feature requests, though, I'd love some sort of reading log that automatically generates stats about my reading. I use a spreadsheet for that now - here's a screenshot

73anglemark
Feb 6, 2013, 1:35pm Top

I really hate the fluffiness. I have a 27" display and I have to scroll three whole screenfuls to see just 15 books. No, that site is not for me.

74AnnieMod
Feb 6, 2013, 1:40pm Top

>57 fredbacon:

Bookish.

LT has a functional design that uses its space properly. It is a personal taste thing:)

75VivienneR
Feb 6, 2013, 1:43pm Top

#72: Nice spreadsheet! A lot of people keep stats like this (I am one of them) - though my spreadsheet is not as pretty. It would be fabulous if LT offered something along these lines.

76leahbird
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 3:28pm Top

Ok, thoughts from my not so in-depth perusal.

- Personally, I think the visual design of the site is lovely. I like their color scheme, I like their fonts, I like their images. LT is not attractive.

- That said, I don't come to LT to be visually stunned. I come here because it's the best book site I've ever found. Bookish does not seem to hold even a flickering candle to LT's usefulness.

- I particularly like some of their sections: "Other Books By" and "Essential List" are wonderfully done. But they shouldn't be on the same page because it make the page too long. And if you use the quick links at the top of the page, there isn't a "back to the top" button, which requires WAY too much scrolling. They should really be more tabish. The "Essential List" feature is very nice, especially the way you can scroll through the lists and see covers.

- Other than those few shallow things, I don't see why I would use Bookish. Maybe I'm missing something deeper, but I don't think so.

I would never stop using LT because of how it looked, but sometimes I wish it was a tad more attractive and flash. Mostly because I spend so much time looking at it that something pretty would be a nice change. ;)

PS: The autofill search thing is great but I think it can be a tad problematic too.

ETA: The visuals are TOO big. They look fine on my giant work screen but would be a nightmare on my tiny netbook or, horror, the miniscule Kindle Fire screen. There is a lot of white space on their pages and too much scrolling.

77cpg
Feb 6, 2013, 3:15pm Top

Vote: I like LibraryThing's look more than Bookish's look.

Current tally: Yes 57, No 9, Undecided 3

78digitalmaven
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 3:43pm Top

I saw Bookish mentioned by someone on Twitter, and have played with it a bit. It's ok, but I'm not sure how much I'll use it in future.

A few notes:

(1) I was surprised to find one of my LT reviews being used on Bookish, since I had the sharing setting as "non-commercial only" here on LT. Bug? I've changed the setting to not share at least until this is fixed.

Oddly, not all of my reviews were being used, so they seem to be showing them very selectively. From what others said, it sounds like they show only the 3+ star reviews, which seems disingenuous.

(2) That you can't just get general recommendations without choosing a specific book first is kind of pointless. I tried rating several books to see if that would trigger something, but it only started guessing what I'd rate other books. I might use their site more if they had this option, but without it, rating books there seems kind of pointless.

(3) I found a few duplicate titles for certain books, but it's not clear why. Some of it was due to different covers or editions, but I also found some author name typos that may have been the reason. I couldn't find a way to correct this or point out the error.

(4) I do like some of the visual design of Bookish, but I agree that certain elements are a bit too large, like the book covers. It's not exactly a new trend, but sites that do this make me feel like they're treating their users like little children, especially when they use giant form fields or icons.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing some changes to the LT visual design, but certainly not this extreme. :)

79tottman
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 4:59pm Top

Just to clarify, because I've seen it come up a couple times, I found a 2 star review of mine that they used on bookish, so it's not a blanket ban on less than 3 star reviews.

80brightcopy
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 5:27pm Top

They appear to have left out my 2.5 star review for Soldier, Ask Not : http://www.librarything.com/work/18964/reviews/58441621

But then, they only used one out of the seven there: cabri's 2.5 star review that they rounded up to 3. And there was even a 3.5 star review that looks perfectly croumlent that they left out.

Perhaps I was censored for the excessive use of the world "Blauvain". If only Dickson had been...

I suspect there's something deeper going on here than just "no less than 3 star reviews". I wonder if it was in LT's feed or in Bookish's processing of it.

81prosfilaes
Feb 6, 2013, 5:40pm Top

50 Shades of Gray has a 1 star review from LT on it.

I never really thought about it, but I like LT's design. I suspect some of the features I don't like are things that most people who don't like LT wouldn't think about--I sometimes try and work with multiple windows on the screen, and LT doesn't handle 900 or 1000 pixel-wide windows well. I'm unhappy with the fact that however LT's textboxes are implemented, the browser doesn't give a warning when you've started typing up a message and accidentally close the window. And as you said, it's data-dense--though Facebook and IMDB manage that pretty well, too. (IMDB is pretty ugly, though, and Facebook is not pretty.)

82lorax
Feb 6, 2013, 7:07pm Top

59>

Not everyone wants data density, but some do, and—to my mind—most sites these days are aimed too "low." They're beautiful but fluffy. We're not beautiful, but we're not fluffy.

You cannot possibly know how happy I am to hear you saying this, after years of me saying the same in response to statements about how LT has too much information visible and we need to hide some of it.

83GwenH
Edited: Feb 6, 2013, 10:54pm Top

Quote:I didn't create an account, so I didn't explore deep. But when I looked at the "Partners" link, it didn't show LT at all. Is this a purposeful oversight?

Quote: They're all publishing partners, if I'm not mistaken. Bookish's great strength is that they were created by and are, it seems, very much supported by publishers. This opens a lot of things for them—publishers have punched WAY below their weight online—and one of the reasons I'm bullish on them long-term.


---

But if they are only promoting books by the limited number of publishers who bought into this, doesn't this make it a thinly veiled advertising site - the internet's version of an infomercial, if you will?

What would be the advantage of using Bookish to find books as opposed to, say, LibraryThing?

edit - not to say that the infomercial approach is necessarily bad - if you are interested in the product then it can be a highly structured way to find out about it.

84timspalding
Feb 7, 2013, 12:51am Top

While I think there's places where we can add a few racing stripes (e.g. more use of cover thumbnails), it'd be a catastrophe to go swapping out the shoe for one that doesn't fit the current users.

I don't see the problem being that we don't have enough images, or whatever, but more like:

1. Our color palate is inconsistent and not particularly good.
2. Basic design elements look one way one place and another another place—left nav, sharing, etc. The base font size varies. Inconsistency is common.
3. Inconsistent choices. For example, to edit we use pencils (at least three different icons), cogs AND the word edit.
4. Our top nav is too thick and the tabs are clunky.
5. We're really at the limit for top tabs, and should move to fewer tabs with a simple drop-down.

85brightcopy
Feb 7, 2013, 7:20am Top

6. The lightbox UI is rather clunky and, again, inconsistently coded.

86Keeline
Feb 7, 2013, 10:31am Top

If an LT redesign is "high on the priority list" as suggested, the main thing I'd like to see is some kind of "responsive design" that notes the screen size and shows data accordingly. If one has the tiny screen of a smart phone, the user is likely to be looking for different data (do I have this book, have I read this book, what are the other books in this author/series) than one who is using a desktop. That said, there should be a link on the mobile side to see the "full" site for those who want it.

As I've written before, the full LT site, with its hundreds of links on a page, is a little hard to navigate on a phone browser. When you try to zoom in with the pinch gesture, it is very likely that a link will be followed. The HTML and data sent out for each page is rather large so such a load can be slow, especially on a cell connection.

James

87timspalding
Feb 7, 2013, 10:53am Top

>85 brightcopy:

I don't agree it's clunky per se, but it's inconsistently designed.

88brightcopy
Feb 7, 2013, 2:11pm Top

#87 by timspalding> Potatoe, potatoh. If the core lightbox class was better coded, there wouldn't be as much coded in the individual use cases that would be inconsistent. Case in point - sizing and positioning. It's terrible about sizing. Sometimes it's coded so that it takes up nearly the whole page height. Other times a tiny porthole that results in scrolling even on a giant screen. And positioning is fairly consistently clunky on mobile devices.

Another annoyance that would be solved in the lightbox class rather than per-page is the close. On just a cursory skim through some of them I get:
( close )
cancel/close
close
close with an X in a circle icon
no close link or button

That's something the individual pages shouldn't care about and should just be coded into the lightbox base class.

I don't want to make a big deal out of this, though. It's not hurting functionality and there are things I'd like to see worked on more (add books, add books, and add books). Well, more that I would like to see them finished than worked on. Add books has been being "worked on" for years now. ;)

But these are some of the things that contribute to LT's sense of being unpolished, even after all these years. It could still be information dense and yet look a lot better with more attention to these sorts of detail.

89C4RO
Feb 8, 2013, 6:09am Top

I took a look at the lifehacker review of Bookish. The first review is snarky and made me laugh:

"Impressive stuff, I typed in a book I really love and it recomended additional books from the same author. I have been blown away by this revelation!"

90timspalding
Feb 8, 2013, 6:12am Top

Snarky, but I think the guy was confusing the "more by this author" section with a recommendation list.

91Bookmarque
Feb 10, 2013, 5:59pm Top

I logged in and messed with it a bit. I was pleasantly surprised by the recommendation engine - I put in The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner as a recently read book and one of the four suggested titles was The Human Stain by Philip Roth which is pretty astute, actually. I hadn't thought of it, but I liked TSB and LOVED THS, so it works for me. Will it replace LT? No way, but it's not as fluffy as I'd expected from many of the comments above.

92digitalmaven
Feb 10, 2013, 7:23pm Top

I was wondering if someone is looking into the review-sharing bug? I posted about it on February 6th above, but I didn't see a reply...

93AMZoltai
Feb 11, 2013, 1:24pm Top

Sorry if this has already been said but it appears Bookish "ignores" self-published books:

"New ‘Bookish’ Site Ignorish Indie Authors" --- http://indiereader.com/2013/02/new-bookish-site-ignorish-indie-authors/

94anglemark
Feb 11, 2013, 1:26pm Top

You read the opening sentence in this thread? "Bookish, the long-delayed, long-anticipated website pushed by the big publishers, has launched."

And you are surprised? ;)

95AMZoltai
Feb 11, 2013, 1:42pm Top

No, not surprised at all, anglemark, just putting some stuff out there... :-)

96timspalding
May 13, 2013, 9:20am Top

So, who's checking in with them now? What's keeping you engaged, if anything?

I note they added a feature to keep track of your shelves. It has no import (or export) unfortunately.

97SqueakyChu
Edited: May 13, 2013, 10:06am Top

I looked at the site, thought it was nice, but it had nothing to make me want to return. What keeps me engaged here at LT are the fora, book cataloguing, and the real-life meet-ups. I don't feel a need to return to Bookish. That is because I get more book recommendations here at LT than I could ever handle in a lifetime. I don't need to visit another book site for additional recommendations.

98mysterymax
May 13, 2013, 9:46am Top

What did I think of their site? - Horribly hard to find stuff, doesn't fulfill any of my needs

What can we learn from them? - Lots of stuff not to do.

Their site visually is too cluttered, too here and there (for me). I love LT - not for its layout beauty, or lack thereof (some people seem to feel a lack) - but for what it does. And what it does is different from everyone else. It fits the needs of the people who use it.

99_Zoe_
May 13, 2013, 10:14am Top

I haven't returned to the site once. It's not a matter of what's *wrong* with it as much as the fact that it doesn't offer anything I need. The default decision isn't "visit website unless I have a specific reason not to", but "don't visit website unless I have a specific reason to do so".

100brightcopy
Edited: May 13, 2013, 10:35am Top

Yeah, I haven't been back, either. But as SqueakyChu touched on, the only reason I'm at LT often is for Talk. Otherwise, LT would be a once-a-month (if that) thing for me, mainly to update my catalog with the books I'd acquired.

ETA: I would have said it would be exactly once a month due to ER, but the persistent difficulty in ER is that I kind of have to look at every single book (barring those with obviously not-my-thing covers) to figure out if I'm interested. As such, I've kind of given up on ER. Wish there was at least some sort of genre display. Just show me the top X tags for the book. That'd be better than what we currently have - nothing.

101prosfilaes
May 13, 2013, 10:50am Top

#100: Just show me the top X tags for the book.

ER books don't usually have tags.

102brightcopy
Edited: May 13, 2013, 10:56am Top

#101 by prosfilaes> That's generally true, though I do find it varies. I guess this is coupled with the other suggestion that was made to have whoever enters the ER books (I assume jbd1) tag it with whatever genre(s)/subject(s) the publisher provides, if they provide them. There was a lot of argument over it, though. But right now, the situation is just unusable to me. Especially since your chances of getting an ER book are low if it's anywhere near popular. A whole lot of work for what will probably be nothing.

103saltmanz
May 13, 2013, 11:32am Top

I've always hated the Bookish layout design (sooo much wasted space) but like other posters here, I just plain have no reason to use it. I already have LT for cataloguing, GR for social, and other sites that I frequent (Tor.com, LT Talk, and the Malazan Empire forums) for discovering new (and old) books.

104BarkingMatt
May 13, 2013, 11:35am Top

I didn't like it so I never took much more than a second look. (If it hadn't been for your message in #1 I wouldn't even have given it that much time).

105AnnieMod
Edited: May 13, 2013, 12:43pm Top

>104 BarkingMatt:

Same here

>102 brightcopy:
That won't help much - the biggest problem are the publishers that mis-categorize...

(Edit to show the hidden message - mixed up the direction of >)

106MarthaJeanne
May 13, 2013, 12:07pm Top

104,105> I agree.

107prosfilaes
Edited: May 13, 2013, 12:59pm Top

As for new books, I just read one off my LT recommendations. I also subscribe to the mailing list of Steve Jackson Games, Paizo and through DriveThruRPG, the mailing lists of a number of small RPG companies. I doubt Bookish is going to handle the feeds of any of those.

109anglemark
Jan 6, 2:52pm Top

'Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette, said the founding publishers "never intended to run Bookish forever,'

I guess eleven months count as forever in the quarter-based US economy.

110brightcopy
Jan 6, 2:57pm Top

Though reading the linked article, it doesn't really seem like they're "gone." They're definitely now thriving, but then they never were. They sold it off to some other company whose going to try to integrate it into a social recommendation product or something. I suspect it won't be a long-term success there, either. But then again, most businesses fail.

111SylviaC
Jan 6, 2:57pm Top

Oops, I must have blinked.

112SqueakyChu
Jan 6, 3:24pm Top

My issue with Bookish is that the recommendations had been and will only be of the books published by the companies involved with that company (or whoever owns it). Those are not really unbiased and comprehensive recommendations such as those users create here on LT.

113BTRIPP
Jan 6, 11:52pm Top

I got suckered into clicking on some ads even before I was able to address any books ... HATE THAT ... will never go back.

114BTRIPP
Jan 6, 11:53pm Top

Also, I don't have a Goodreads account ... is that the only way to import one's library? Seems a stupid thing for LT to be promoting.

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