So this week I wanted to write more about my proposal and about what the market is like for this kind of app. I won’t rehash what my previous posts say about the project since those are available on my blog.
First, what similar apps and websites are there?
The biggest and most well-known is probably GoodReads. GoodReads is a website owned by Amazon that allows users (as well as publishers and authors) to create profiles where they can list books they have read, are reading, and want to read. Users can also leave reviews and enter giveaways.
Another similar website is Bookish, which was started by Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. Again, this allows for creating a “bookshelf” and reading/leaving reviews.
Facebook also has a similar app called Visual Bookshelf where users can create a “bookshelf” and share it with friends who are also using the app.
So why the need for BookConnect?
Well, even though there are a lot of similar websites and apps, they all have a variety of issues with usability and features they offer. On GoodReads and other sites, users must manually input the data themselves. This often involves searching by author, title, or ISBN, and usually leads to problems. Many times, their database simply doesn’t have the edition of the book you have or you just can’t seem to find it through the search. This makes your bookshelf less accurate. Also, if you’re a huge book nerd like me, you likely have tons of books in your real world bookshelf, so searching for each and everyone will end up taking ages. I stopped using GoodReads because it was impossible to create a virtual bookshelf that matched my real bookshelf.
Another issue is that these sites and apps aren’t interactive enough. Most of the time, you can only share your bookshelf with your “friends” and not everyone you know will be interested in it. Being able to read reviews and ratings is great, but what would be better is being able to actually message other users to talk about the books. One thing that BookConnect adds is private messaging between users, public comments/dialogue, and virtual book groups that will engage users (whether “friends” or not) outside of just reviewing books they have read. Users will be able to suggest books to other users or comment on other users’ bookshelves.
**This kind of interaction could have issues (privacy, bullying/inappropriate comments), but BookConnect would keep users’ information anonymous if that was the user’s preference and would feature “Block” and “Report” options for offensive/inappropriate content, ensuring a safe environment for all users.
This is just some of the research I have conducted on competitors and gap in the market. I will expand upon this further in the report.