Game of Books has been fully funded via their Kickstarter campaign! Basically, it’s home library/book cataloging system where you earn points/skills/etc. based on the books you read… think Dungeons & Dragons meets LibraryThing. This could be a lot of fun.
You start off as an Apprentice and then level up as your reading progresses:
Apprentice Reader = Level 0+
Journeyman Reader = Level 25+
Craftsman Reader = Level 50+
Master Reader = Level 75+
GrandMaster Reader = Level 100+
At the bottom of their site, there is also a “concept demo” that shows off what your Reader/Character card would look like. Some folks might think it’s hokey (which it may be, we’ll have to see) but many like all of their virtual badges and fake pats on the back for “leveling up” across hundreds of check-in apps. And I think competition can be fun. What I am anxious to see is how well this resonates with the two budding readers in my house… this seems to be the kind of thing that my son would dig.
What do you think? Would you give Game of Books a try?
One of my favorite groups on LibraryThing is “Name That Book“. It falls squarely in the realm of “useful tools for readers”. Basically, they help you find books that you remember reading, but can’t remember the title, author, etc. The discussions are filled with hazy plots, fuzzy cover descriptions, names “that sounds like…”, etc. as people try and zero in on the elusive book title.
It’s amazing how fun the conversations can get when everyone is Googling, searching their shelves and racking their brains to help find the answer to a missing book query. Sort of like a bookish party game with 1,000 people playing.
So if you ever find yourself looking for a book from the mid-80′s about a time-travelling Congressional Page and his dog, give the helpful folks in the LT Name That Book group a chance. Many times the group-think carries the day and if you’re lucky you’ll bump into more books that you might enjoy.
If you’re not up for the discussions and want to cast a larger net, the Library of Congress also has a site set up to help people in their quest for Lost Novels. The page has links to many sites and groups all organized to help reconnect readers with forgotten books. Some of the sites are better than others, but the tips they offer are pretty universal and are worth reading no matter where you look for help.
One of my favorite things about Birmingham is the book culture. Looking online I know the local book scene is not “in your face” like the football fans or as scary as all of the “weather geek” updates, but man we have some cool people in Birmingham doing cool things to promote books, authors and reading. I have to admit to being a fanboy of some of them. There are some that you know you’d enjoy chatting with if you ever just bumped into them at the grocery store or bar. Here are three local Birmingham bookish bloggers that I always look forward to seeing updates from. Even if they are talking about books that I’ll never read, their passion for books is addictive and fun to follow.
So if you enjoy discussions with fellow book-folk, be sure to check these out:
Church Street Coffee & Books – the bookstore crew over in Mt. Brook keep the Postscript updates coming regularly with guest posts, book reviews and insights into the world of “running a bookstore”.
Medusa’s Library – this blogger works over at another great local bookstore the Little Professor in Homewood. If you like book-related conversation the posts here are fun. If you’re into paranormal books and sci-fi fiction you are going to be very very happy.
Oh My Godwin! – this local tumblr is dripping with bookish goodness. Some posts are humorous and some elevate books. My favorite updates are the photos. All of which will have you smiling wondering “can I have a room like this in my house”?
So those are three of my favorites. Who am I missing?
Over the past couple of days it has become apparent that the folks running GoodReads are hiding some book reviews. While this initially sounds really really bad, it seems to be an effort to help their members “play nice”. It’s the classic story of a few bad apples ruining it for everyone else. I’m not going to link specifically to all the posts, forums, blogs, etc. that spawned all of this, as I don’t want to join the flame wars, but I do think it’s important that we all know what and how GoodReads is changing.
The impetus for the changes in policy has to do with GoodReads allowing both authors and readers to be active on the site. Authors get blogs. Readers don’t. Readers can leave reviews. Author’s can’t (but they can have secondary “personal” accounts to do reviews with, but that’s another issue). So what’s been happening with a few passionate (and not so mature) authors is:
1. A reader pans a book on GoodReads, gives it a one star rating and maybe adds it to their “Readers to Avoid” shelf.
2. The author stumbles upon this and blogs about the negative review on their GoodReads blog, often making observations of the reviewer’s “lack of a brain”.
3. The author’s fans see this post and flock to the reviewer’s profile spewing forth bad stuff.
4. The reviewer’s friends start reviewing the author and the author’s fans’ activities (rather than reviewing the books), and things escalate.
5. The reviewer and a couple of friends get fed up and quit using GoodReads.
So what GoodReads has started doing is letting users know that their review has been hidden, if it doesn’t meet GoodReads criteria of a book review. So now, if you bash an author for their stance on importing bananas from Brazil, your review will show on your profile page and in your shelves, but not on the curated community book page, because your ‘review’ had nothing to do with the book. Also, your GoodReads friends will be able to see it, but that’s it.
This seems to ‘kind of’ fix the problem as it removes the match strike that sets these immature authors and fans off. But there is really nothing to stop these bad apples from harassing readers. I am not sure if more changes are on the way or not. We’ll have to see how all of this evolves.
I dabble on GoodReads (if you want to say ‘hi’ please do, it’s always fun chatting with other readers). But I check in on LibraryThing every day, so come join the fun over there if you haven’t already.
Check out this very cool interactive map of bookstores around Great Britain. You can zoom in and out all around the country and it shows where the clusters of shops are. As useful as this would be for someone living over there (or someone over here planning a vacation) I admit to being jealous in seeing just how MANY bookshops are crammed into such a small area. But before I broke out the bourbon to lament the state of U.S. bookshops I thought I should at least make sure I was comparing apples to apples. . .
Here in Birmingham, we have 6 really good independent shops and another 7 big box bookstore chains all in a geographic area of around 152 square miles and a population of around 212,000 people. So I looked around and found Brighton and Hove. It’s a seaside town, south of London, which has a population between 210,00 and 220,00, but it only takes up about 30 square miles and has 12 bookshops showing on the map.
No doubt the research turned up by my few clicks around the internet wouldn’t hold up in court and with only one cup of coffee in me, I can’t even draw any really meaningful conclusions except to say that we seem right on track with the rest of the world. How often do we get to claim that?
We have some great bookstores here in Birmingham run by some wonderful people. The only thing I’d change is that I’d like more bookstores. Little shops with little eccentricities. Special book places that specialize in certain topics. And most of all… a growing populace that supports them all!
Here is a great link for folks in the Birmingham-area to bookmark. It’s a handy collection of lists showing you the most recent books, dvd’s, eBooks, audiobooks, etc. available for check out from local libraries. The lists are maintained by the Birmingham Central Library, Hoover Library, Vestavia Library and the Botanical Garden branch.
For the most part they are updated about twice a month. So it’s a good place to check on the 1st and 16th of each month to see if there is something new you’d like to read. Of course, being in the JCLC system, if you see something you like you can always have it requested and shipped to the closest library branch to you.
A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to see what all of the John Carter fuss was about. So I went looking for the first book in the series. Which, after a few Google searches, told me was A Princess of Mars. The problem was I didn’t know if I’d like it, so I didn’t want a new copy. I checked two local used-book spots and struck out. There is also a waiting list to get one of the library copies, so I turned to eBooks. I didn’t originally start here as I like old vintage sci-fi artwork and I was hoping to get something along those lines (still am).
I knew that Edgar Rice Burroughs penned the Barsoom series books a long time ago and that they would be in the public domain, so I went to Project Gutenberg first. And there it was. In eight different formats. So I grabbed a .prc file and loaded it on my device, via email. I have to say that it’s great fun so far. If you like Golden Age-styled science fiction you should check it out.
Here are links and screenshots of the various online services. It’s interesting to see them all side-by-side so you can note the similarities and differences between them.
Since the book is public domain all of the platforms should have copies. I have no idea if these files differ, but Kindle, Nook and Google all have free e-book versions. In fact, Kindle, Google and Project Gutenberg all allow onine in-browser reading. Something that the nook service lacks. Plus, the Kindle, Nook and Google platforms all have syncing. So if you are on page 52 on your kindle and then run an errand, you can pull out your phone app and it will sync to the right place.
I’m waiting to see how this book ends before deciding if I’m going to complete the series. Have any of you read through the series?
Carrie Rollwagen (twitter), who owns Church Street Coffee & Books, is set to launch a new site Monday called PostScript Blog. Rollwagen is a proponent of shopping small and great book stores. Two things I like too. In a recent post on her Shop Small Blog she said the new site will:
“…I think books are so important, and because I think the battle of independents versus Amazon is such a great Small Shop case study, my new blog, PostScript Blog, will focus on books — kind of.
I say “kind of,” because it will really be about more that books. There will be book reviews, and I’ll talk about publishing (and Amazon) sometimes. But mostly, it’ll just be about interesting stuff — movies, music, shopping, community — and the way books intersect with those parts of our lives.”
She also says that Church Street Coffee & Books will ship and distribute all books and ebooks purchased through the new site. That’s a great step that all bookstore owners should take. A reader’s choice in format is not necessarily an “either/or” proposition, but “with”. I think that smart shop owners and their customers will be better served if they figure out how to live with both.
I hope Birmingham continues to gain book-friendly voices in 2012.
Earlier this year, someone says they paid 50 cents for an old Nintendo cartridge that had some Japanese bootleg version of a Great Gatsby game. And thanks to the world of emulators you can play this 8-bit wonder right in your web browser.
You start off dodging butlers and tipsy partiers as Nick Carraway. Your goal is to simply “find Gatsby”. I admit that I have not played very much of the game and have no idea where it goes with the story or characters. I just thought its was neat that even way back when NES was the coolest, someone thought it worth while to make a game out of a book.
Last week someone started the #bkstoreluv to help folks celebrate their favorite local book shops. GalleyCat picked up on this and has started compiling a list of great bookstore twitter accounts. I’ve already submitted my two local favorites here in Birmingham – @81churchstreet and @little_prof.
Hopefully they will get added to the main directory listing soon. I also follow a few other out-of-town bookshops on Twitter. Are there others that you are fond of that are worth a follow? Please share! I’m always looking for good book conversations.
Blogs I Like
- B’ham Public Library
- Book Chase
- Book Patrol
- Bookshelf Porn
- Exile Bibliophile
- Fine Books Blog
- Loud poet
- Nathalie Foy
- Oh My Godwin!
- Reed Next’s Next Read
- Turn the Page
- AL.com Books
- AL.com Books Forum
- Alabama Center for the Book
- Alabama Writers' Forum
- Bham Wiki
- Book TV
- Menasha Ridge Press
- The Literacy Council
- Book Art
- Book Collecting
- Book Column
- Book Covers
- Book Design
- Book Reviews
- Book Sale
- Book Talk
- Bookstore Ideas
- Digital Publishing
- Free Books
- Friday Finds
- Gifts for Book People
- New Releases
- On the TV
- On the Web
- Publishing Industry News
- Site News
- Tools for Readers
- Upcoming Titles