Whether you’ve read Harry Potter a million times or you know every line of every John Green book, book lovers are everywhere. And there are plenty of startups helping to connect readers with each other and trying to help readers enjoy their books even more.
Listy is a social app where readers can talk about books and follow each other’s activity in the world of literature. It’s more than just a review site, like Goodreads. Litsy allows readers to have more of a conversation about books, similar to conversations readers have with their best friends or with random enthusiasts at bookstores. Founded in 2015, Litsy allows users to write a blurb, or a comment, about a book, or a full-blown review – as long as it’s below 300 characters. You can follow different accounts to see what particular readers are saying, and look at a book’s profile to see what the world thinks. And best of all, the app is free.
If you’re into ebooks and wish you could share / borrow them more easily with friends, Ownshelf could be what you’re looking for. Founded in late 2012 (though still in “beta”), Ownshelf is like a Dropbox for ebooks; simply upload them and share them with friends, just like you would with a physical bookshelf in your house, but one to which all your Facebook friends have access. Friends can browse each other’s bookshelves and see what each person has to offer. Let’s call it a “social networked library”, which is great, assuming there’s some way for me to make sure that people return the books they borrow from me…
To be fair, this isn’t for “book lovers” in the classic sense, but in more of the progressive or alternative sense. Hooked takes the reading experience in a different direction, “redefining fiction for the Snapchat generation.” Built to be read on phones, and knowing people are accustomed to reading text messages on their phones, Hooked has stories written in text message format for easy digesting, as well as a unique reading experience. It was founded in 2014 with Twitter and text messaging in mind, and the app recently updated to allow readers to write and publish their own stories.
For those who always wish they could read faster, Spritz can help make that happen. Founded in 2012, Spritz helps you focus word by word to read up to 700 words per minute. Spritz has a number of services covering multiple platforms, from a web application for webpages to a number of apps designed for ebooks. In a quick test I did with a demo on the website, I found that my focus did seem to spike as a result of tool, allowing me to move more smoothly through sentences. It may also a great tool for people with learning disabilities or people in the early stages of literacy.
Finally, if you’re the type of person who likes to wear their book on their sleeve, check out Litographs. This startps creates tote bags, t-shirts and posters out of the text in a book. Every word is used to create an image from the story, whether it’s Alice falling down the rabbit hole or a twister and flying monkeys snatching up Dorothy. They come in all sorts of colors and are all very tasteful. You could even frame one and hang it up in your living room if you get the decorative bug.
Alternatively, if you want to share your experience with books in a more personal way, you can create a YouTube channel, where there’s a wonderful community of people, called BookTubers, who share their experience with books and reading. PolandBananasBooks is a great example. The videos are fun to watch, and I’m sure they’re fun to make.
Patrick Hoff is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has spent the last three years writing and editing at his college newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. He has written for a number of publications, including Jyrno and The Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as writing for the blog at the Institute for Community Inclusion.
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