Archives for posts with tag: interface

Photo Attribution: Will Clayton

Happy Birthday, BookGlutton! You were but a glimmer in our eye in Fall of 2006. A few months later, when the two of us started working on you full time (Jan 07), we knew we were doing something exciting – after all, who had heard of social reading then? In the last four years we’ve built a lot. We’ve seen the industry change right before our eyes. We were in private beta when the Kindle came out. The iPhone was brand new. We were early.

Looking at things from a startup perspective, early isn’t always positive. In truth, we would have done better to build less and start later – but then we wouldn’t have experimented as much. We spent a lot of time building for laptops, wishing tablets would finally happen. We had to build our own social network from the ground up because Facebook didn’t have an API (and then pivot when it did). And we had very little to base our interface on…so we made most of the user experience up as we went along.

What we built at BookGlutton includes:

BookGlutton grew to become a huge system, and has given us plenty of opportunities to geek out. Our initial plan was clear: we just set out to build a reading system with social features. As we moved through the process we found that, to do this, we needed to build a social network to use it…and then a publisher’s system, a content repository, etc. Not everything we built has been a resounding success, but we have learned about all the different aspects of digital publishing and where it intersects with the web in unique ways. Buy us a beer sometime…we can talk about it for hours!

    Over the years we’ve seen some cool uses of the site:

  • People in Iceland embedding Dracula with BookGlutton’s widget and reading it together.
  • Teachers in Phoenix using BookGlutton to teach English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • Japanese classrooms using it to read Jane Austen.
  • Grandparents forming groups with grandkids and leaving them notes.
  • NYU students logging on at midnight to meet as a class to prepare for class.
  • Authors embedding the BookGlutton widget on their websites and leaving comments inside for their readers.
  • Soldiers using it to read with people back home.

It’s been a good ride. We recently launched a new user-funnel with some social gaming aspects and tight Facebook integration (yes, I should send a newsletter out about it). With ebooks taking off, more people are starting to see things our way. We’re excited to see where that leads us next. Aaron and I have launched a separate endeavor, ReadSocial, which brings what we’ve learned about social reading to other reading systems. BookGlutton still has great things in store…

Thanks to all the people who’ve used and supported BookGlutton over the years!

-Travis
travis at bookglutton dot com

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As a designer, you conceive your design with the core values of a project in mind; you strive to reflect the ideas and feelings behind it. Contrary to that, the first lesson in web development is always separate your design from your code. It’s important that projects be flexible. A myriad number of screen sizes and devices mean the “presentation layer” should be designed to change, particularly when you use web technology. Moreover, partnerships will impact your design.

Aaron and I have been making websites for 15 years, so we get that. Most people don’t know it, but what we’ve built at BookGlutton is flexible in many ways. Easiest to change is the look and feel. Over the years we’ve had a number of conversations about offering our “BookClub in a Can,” the ability to export the social experience to other sites, so they can curate their own book clubs. Business considerations and content deals ultimately kept these projects from launching, and BookGlutton remained a destination site. But it’s fascinating to see how associating the reading experience with a different brand affects your relationship to it.

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GOODREADS

Skinning the Reader takes almost no time at all. However, it changes the experience significantly. The Reader takes on the trappings of that community.

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All the mockups listed here preserved the buttons and layout, but even that can change. It makes for interesting consideration. Sometimes these mockups were presented in meetings; sometimes the discussion ended prematurely. See more skins, as well as the original BookGlutton design on Flickr.

We’ve tricked out the BookGlutton content feed for Stanza! Check it out on your iPhone by downloading the Stanza App and going to Online Catalog > Books from BookGlutton.

Drilling down through the catalog to a Book Detail Page shows off the new design. Now you can tell how many times the book has been read on BookGlutton (Opens) and how many people have checked out the Detail Page on BookGlutton.com (Views). We also touched up the design to have more emphasis on cover art.

Scroll down to get detailed information, like a longer description, as well as the option to jump out to the BookGlutton.com mobile site. It opens in Safari, right inside Stanza! If, on the off chance, a publisher hasn’t cleared something for download, you can still access it inside Stanza – it just opens it via the mobile site right here. For most books, Stanza’s built in functionality is the norm, though, and you can download the title, just like you always have.

The new catalog arrangement now has the ability to find books by Publisher, as well as by Catalog. “Catalog?” you ask? Well, yes. The Unbound Reader on BookGlutton.com allows you to import from additional catalogs, so you can now do that here as well. Moreover, the Genres now match what you see on the BookGlutton site.

Finally, don’t forget the Surprise Me link!

BookGlutton’s playing favorites. Now you can mark any book as a FAVORITE. Once you log in, just click on the star icon on any book detail page and it’ll be added to your FAVORITES LIST. The icon won’t show up until you LOG IN, though…’cause how else will we know who’s favorite it is?

Q: Why would I want to do this?
A: To make your favorites easier to find. Trust us – you’ll be using this a lot once you start reading on multiple platforms.

Q: And how do I get to my FAVORITES list?
A: Easy. Log in and look for your PERSONAL SUBNAV in the PAGE HEADER. Click on COLLECTIONS. Essentially your FAVORITES are just one kind of COLLECTION or book list.

Q: I don’t see a star! Where’d it go?
A: See the part about logging in. A whole slew of stuff will show up on the right, too.

If you’ve been reading lately you might have noticed something missing…like the control panel at the bottom!

There’s nothing like a little more reading space, is there? If you leave your mouse alone for a while these buttons get the heck out of your way. They slide back up when you move your mouse.

This is even cooler if you use our handy spacebar shortcut (You remember that you can move forward using the handy spacebar key, right?). This newfangled buttonbar fanciness works in Firefox and Safari, so read comfortably, with all the room you crave.