As books are moving away from the library and into the digital age, how can avid readers get involved online?
I’m proud to say that I’m a self proclaimed book worm. From a young age nothing has captured my attention more than my latest read. I’ve moved with the times and succumbed to purchasing an E-reader, which surprisingly I love and would highly recommend. This is a great step in the right direction to keep literature alive.
However, I am disappointed in the lack of online social and review aspects for books, which swarms the Internet for other mediums. We’re all too familiar with sites such as IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes which help keep us up to date with the latest film releases, and browse reviews from users and critics. There is a stark contrast online when it comes to books, but here a few great places to start.
Part of the Huffington Post empire, HuffPost Books provides a collaboration of reviews, features and an online book club.
There’s some really interesting news and features from Huffington Post contributors, providing a great hub of information for any book worm. As expected, the renowned Huffington standards are maintained, and there is always up to date and original information available.Alongside this is the HuffPost Book Club brings together critics and readers, inviting you to ‘Join the Conversation’. There are comment features on the site and social networking links allowing you to share your views with other members. Users are also invited to vote for the following book to be discussed by the club. You can browse the club’s favourite books or join in with the latest conversation.
This is a great opportunity which allows everyone to be involved in a discussion, and provides users with an array of reviews and comments about different books.
The IDream Books site was launched this July, offering book reviews from professional critics.
The website allows you to scroll through different categories or genres, and search for a particular book. They claim: “We aggregate book reviews by critics to help you discover the very best of what’s coming out each week.”
IDream is very critic based, with a strict criteria for who can publish reviews on the site. This is a different approach which avoids user reviews and focuses on high quality professional critique. The reviews come from other publications and individual critics for the site, who have had publishing existence for over a year, with a specific focus on books, and consistent high standards.
Small Demons is another new site, which takes a book and then places it firmly into the real world. It allows you to explore the places, people, music, movies and more which are found within your favourite books. It creates a ‘Storyverse’ – the real life world that exists within literature.
I’m finding this site a fascinating journey, as it offers so much more than your standard review sites. In an ambitious and innovative way it allows you to explore the details within books and the connections that can be made between them. Sound a bit confusing? Imagine a web, there’s a book at the centre and each strand reaching out from it connects to something real. This could be anything from the piece of a music that a couple dance to, a beloved character’s favourite restaurant, or the birthplace of a fictional star. Small Demons collects each of these webs, allowing you to not only look at the aspects of each book, but at things which intersect between the webs.
For example: you look up your favourite book, and find out more about the place where it was based. Small Demons can then send you on a journey to this place, and help you discover where it appears within other books. Before you know it you’ve amassed a collection of new reads based on recurring features which created a spark in your imagination. This imaginary world becomes real, and you can explore it through further literature.
Small Demons is a truly original site, full of insightful information for any avid reader.
I hope that in the future we will see growth and development of literature sites. The few sites which are currently available are mainly low-key and fairly unknown. Readers need to get online and stand proud. We are the future of books in the digital age and our support and enthusiasm will be the driving force for a stronger online presence.