UPDATE: The developer has just added a search function for your personal library! Yay!
While stalking the developer of my WP plug-ins, I discovered she was getting ready to launch a new book tracking website. So by sheer luck I was one of the first people to join Bookhype.com. It was basic, but it had potential right out of the gate for some interesting features, so I uploaded my data and started playing.
That was back in the beginning of September, and the site’s feature set has grown enough that it seemed now was as good a time as any to update friends who have not yet joined, about the site’s progress.
The most important thing to remember is that the site is still in beta. So while a lot of features are missing, I don’t know if they’re missing because they haven’t been added yet, or because they’re never going to be added. If I do know, I’ll mention that below.
What the site has that’s working for me:
A pretty easy to use interface; the UI is easy on the eyes and for the most part extremely easy to use. You can log multiple reads and multiple editions (including purchasing information), but your shelves only display one edition, which can get confusing until you get the hang of it.
Some pretty good reading stats – with charts! – that include things like genres and page counts, as well as books acquired over time.
Series tracking: It’s pretty slick. You can follow series, and if you opt in, new titles added to those series will be automatically added to your shelves, and also as an opt in, you can get an email notification. The back end of the site has some nice logic built in, so series that have changed names mid-way through can alias the old/new name, and the librarian functions allow merging/deleting series, avoiding potential bloating. What could be better: it would be nice to be able to nominate how new titles are added to your shelves.
Librarian functions: One of the first “big” features that were added after launch, and of course, I applied. Because I guess I need more databases in my life. The features are pretty well thought out and robust, though I’d still love to see the ability to bulk combine titles and bulk merge authors, something I hate to admit GoodReads got right. What could be better: while the site handles pseudonyms pretty well, there’s no cross-referencing of pseudonyms on the author pages themselves. Also, there seems to be no plans for handling multiple covers other than adding more additions. This is going to cause wicked edition bloat, and at the moment, there seems to be no way to merge duplicate listings, though that may change.
What I think really needs addressing:
Personal library: this is the part where I’m most critical. At the moment there’s only one way to view it and that’s cover mode. Which looks nice, but doesn’t make my heart sing because I want to see the data, preferably in list view with the ability to sort by ALL the columns. At this time you also can’t search your books, which is HUGELY problematic. (Update: now you can search!) You can filter by Read, Reviewed, Currently Reading, Wishlist but you can’t just search out a specific title, and you can’t see all the books on your shelves by author. I’ve emailed the developer about this and I know she’s thinking about it, but I don’t know what her plans are, if any, for improving the ability to manipulate your own shelves. I’ve also asked about creating personal shelves, which she’s nixed, as she’s going the tag route. When I mentioned they weren’t that easy to use, she immediately went about making them MUCH easier. Now I’m hoping she’ll move their location on the page to make them easier to access on the fly.
Social aspects – there aren’t any. You can follow people, but the lack of notification when someone likes or comments makes the following a moot point. I’m guessing this is still something that’s in development and as such I’m REALLY hoping she’ll make the activity page one that’s interactive, with the ability to comment on posts, and respond to other comments, directly from the activity page.
Generally the site has a lot of potential and seems to have a very dedicated developer intent on creating a book site that is completely independent of Amazon. It’s got a lot of nice touches, and with a few more could be a much better alternative to GoodReads. Fingers crossed.