A site for book lovers, built by book lovers
Imagine an online community put together by readers, book bloggers, and book lovers. You can find books, catalog books, rate books, challenge yourself, and form relationships with fellow book nerds. But more importantly, you can talk to the people behind the scenes and help shape the future of this site. Your say matters, your interests are catered to, and the site is tailored to your needs as a reader. That's what we're looking to create. We want to take this idea, simplify it, modernize it, and ship it out to the world with you.
I'm sure you can already think of a few online book review/cataloging communities, but we're looking for something more -- something better. We want less drama, less spam, a better interface, and developers with a personal touch. We want to give the power to the community. You have a say in what content you see on the site. Sure, the idea has been done before, but we want to make it better.
This is your chance to be part of new social media site, based around your visions and your dreams, because the people who want to make this happen are YOU. We're book bloggers, we're readers, we have books shoved into cupboards next to rice and pasta and plates because the bookshelves are already full. We live and breathe books, and now we want to create a better online community for book lovers to thrive.
- The ability to search for a book and immediately see details about it (cover, title, author, publisher, publication date, ISBN, etc.).
- Create your own virtual libraries of books. Tell the world which books you own, which you're currently reading, which you want to read, and which you've already read. Tag books with your own customized labels to better keep track of and categorize them.
- Rate books (with half stars!) and leave reviews.
- Save reviews as drafts before publishing them
- Advanced privacy settings for labels, reviews, and accounts.
- Send friendship requests and follow your friends' updates.
- Unlock achievements, ranks, and virtual rewards.
- Keep track of your reading progress and statistics. Plus, compare with your friends.
- Start discussions on the forum.
- Customize your site experience.
Learn more about our features and ideas in these blog posts:
- What it Takes to Create a Book Cataloging Site
5 Reasons People Aren’t Happy With Goodreads
- Creating My First Bookish Business Plan
- All About LitRate
- You Asked and LitRate is Listening
- How LitRate Can Improve Bookish Discussions
- Interview on Read.Sleep.Repeat
- The LitRate Mission & Policies
Free Speech and Bullying in Book Reviews: Is there a happy middle ground?
Where will the money go?
$14,000 - Licensing book data (one year)
$3,700 - Server costs (one year)
$1,800 - Kickstarter fees, processing fees, declined payments
Woah, so those costs are more than we're asking for, right? Before we realized that it was going to cost us $14,000 to pay for a subscription to license book data, we were fully prepared to foot the bill ourselves (server costs) and not take a pay check from the work involved. But when we got data licensing quotes in the $14,000 - $18,000 range, that was too much for us to pay on our own.
Instead of asking you for as much as we can, we're asking for the minimum amount -- just enough to cover the book data and Kickstarter fees. This is a project that we're excited about and we want to do, even if it means not being paid to do it and having to pay for some things ourselves. We'll cover the server costs, but we need your help to get the book data!
Why not get book data somewhere else?
$14,000 is a lot to pay for book data. You might be thinking: why not use the Amazon API? Or the Google Books API? Or Open Library? Those are options, but after much research we've determined those to be limiting or inferior options that would hinder the site. If we're going to do this, we want it to be GREAT -- not "okay, but could be better".
The biggest problem with the Amazon API is that they have a clause in their terms of service prohibiting you from displaying the data on mobile devices. This includes responsive website designs (which are an industry standard these days!) and mobile apps. We don't think this project could be successful without mobile support.
While Open Library is a great resource, it seems to be lacking in recent releases (the last 1-2 years). Its database is also riddled with spam entries that would degrade the quality of our site -- like this copy of Fifty Shades of Grey written by Alexandre Dumas.
Paying for a premium service allows us to get reliable, professional book data. We'll have access to out of print titles, in print titles, and even upcoming releases.
As I'm sure you'd expect, this development schedule is a very rough estimate. We may have to expand (or even shrink it) depending on how many hitches we run into (or not), how many ideas spring up at the last minute, and so on. Please go easy on us! :)
Our stretch goals are quite simple. We need a minimum of $14,000 (plus fees) to fund the project for one year. Anything we raise over that amount will be put towards funding the project for an additional year.
Questions & Answers
How will the site sustain itself in the future?
The site will primarily make money through advertising. Our goal isn't to make a huge profit from the site; our goal is for the site to EXIST. This is something that we're passionate about and we just want to see it happen. All we need to do is offset our expenses for a data licensing subscription. We're expecting to have two unobtrusive ads on each page.
How will LitRate be different from what's already out there, like Goodreads?
We've done a lot of research into why people aren't happy with Goodreads. Our immediate priorities include:
- Improving the search function (we already have a working prototype that's better than what Goodreads has. Unlike Goodreads, we'll strip out stop words like "by").
- Offering privacy settings so you can post 'questionable' book reviews, but only you (or your friends) have access to them.
- A more modern and sleek user interface.
- Allowing the use of half stars.
But we plan on expanding well beyond this. We want to take a more personal approach to our site by allowing people to communicate with us directly.
Will there be a mobile application?
Sadly, we won't have a mobile application ready for launch. It is something we'd like to offer at some point, but we can't say when that might be available. However, we are planning to make the site itself fully responsive, so it should be very accessible on tablets and mobile devices.
A husband and wife team
This project is being manned by a husband and wife team: Ashley and Peter. They both work as web developers and enjoy blogging, gaming, and reading. They've worked together on a variety of projects for the book blogging community in the form of WordPress plugins and themes. Creating an online resource and community for readers is their next big dream.
Show your support
Want to put a cool LitRate badge in your blog sidebar? We have some available over at litrate.com!
Risks and challenges
1. Unable to get enough members. A site like this will only be successful if there's a great community to support it.
2. Unable to continue funding the site after one year. Raising $16,000 from Kickstarter is just the beginning. That allows us to get the project off the ground, but we will have to continue paying for the book data license every year. We'll have to earn this same amount of money again and again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)