Book Notification Newsletter: Behind The Scenes August

By: Graeme, August 27th, 2023 5:08 pm.

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the August edition of the Book Notification newsletter.

As mentioned in our last newsletter, rolling out new features is going to be slow for a couple of months due to a variety of work behind the scenes.

Our work at the moment is primarily focused on two areas:

1: Adding New Authors: This continues to be a big process, due to requests via our contact form, and the backlog of imports from readers current book lists. We’re now over the 27,000 mark for authors and still have many more to add. Over 3,000 authors audited and added just in the month of August. The more we add, the more complete our database is so this continues to be the highest priority and it is primarily “all hands on deck” in relation to that. I estimate we have another 15,000 to 20,000 to add over the next few months.

The process is explained on the site but just to give a quick example so you understand the workload; a user imports their reading list or requests a new author to ass as they have read one of their books. We don’t just click a magic button and have that author show up with that book – we have to import in all their books, organize them into appropriate categories, look for any books with alternate titles, look for any series that has a chronological order which differs from the publication order, connect any pen names or real names if a pseudonym and audit them too.

It can be a lot of work. It’s common for an author with one book marked as read to result in 2-3 hours of work auditing them. But it will all be worth it long-term.

2: Tracking New Books. The whole purpose of the site is for you to be notified of new books by your favourite authors. We are focused on adding various new systems for that. As we add authors, this becomes an even bigger workload so we are spending a lot of time on this and making sure we don’t miss any new books. If we do, we have to stop and explore why, and then put something in place to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Over 500 “new” books come into the system each day via various ISBN services that have to be dealt with. Many of them aren’t “legitimate” as in if a random Joe Smith decides to upload a book writing about “Romeo & Juliet”, many of these systems tag William Shakespeare as a co-author so we have to deal with things like that. Authors are constantly re-releasing existing books in different formats as well which show up and have to be handled. We’ve been creating systems to deal with all that as well.

We will continue to roll out some minor “quality of life” improvements each month though, and hopefully will start adding bigger features in the Winter.

I’ll keep you updated on everything we are doing as I consider this as much your site as it is mine, and I appreciate any and all feedback or suggestions you have to make it better.

Last newsletter, we said we would give 10 $25 USD gift cards to random people who wrote reviews for books. We’re still working on the book pages and displaying these, but the winners for this contest are:

  1. bssalz (Susan)
  2. Ciao45
  3. Jan (jcalv)
  4. jay6438
  5. Jessica Us—
  6. JimRob
  7. PFXRchrdsn
  8. sefccw
  9. Steveukfc
  10. Targared

I’ve sent you all an e-mail.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to write a review of a book. Keep it up! It will be very helpful for us when we launch book pages hopefully later this year.

We have another contest posted at the bottom of the newsletter.



New Features:

New Books Releasing This Week: A new feature on the site. Every Sunday, we will create a post such as this one highlighting new books releasing for the upcoming week. It also lists if it is part of a series and if so the number, or if it is a standalone. Down the road when we get into genres, we’ll be able to break all that down by genre too.

As a quick side note – one of the most requested features by users is that on the e-mail we send out listing new books by your followed authors, that we display the series beside each one. We’re hoping to roll that out within the next week or two.

Reading Challenge: We are still to focus and work on the reading challenge section of the site. We want to hit a home run with this right off the bat. We made one little addition – on that section now, you’ll see a list of all books you have currently marked read in 2023. Note that the default date for books on the book manage screen was always the current date, so if you didn’t change that you may have some incorrect ones on there but it’s easy to change or remove the date. We’ve also changed it so that the default date is now blank, and you can set the date easily.

If you are passionate about reading challenges, I’d love to hear what you want to see from it. I’ve never bothered with reading challenges myself, so it’s not a subject I’m well versed in. I’ve spent a lot of time researching it and reading discussions about it and have a big ideas list. However if you have any suggestions or ideas for what you would like to see within the reading challenge, be sure to hit reply and let me know!

Lists: We have now added a section on authors pages, where relevant, that tracks any lists that their books made it on. For example, if a book makes it on the Time Magazine “100 Must Read-Books of 2022”, that will be mentioned within that authors bio. We just have to now input all of the data for that. Currently, we have added all data listing every single fiction book (and many non-fiction) that made it to #1 on the NYT Bestseller list and are working on books that have made the NYT “Notable 100” lists.

Spelling Errors: There are many common spelling errors people make, such as “Karen Slaughter”, “Jeffrey Deaver” or “Kristen Hannah”. To make life easier for everyone, we’ve set up our own admin page that tracks all common spelling errors, and redirects people to the correct author. So now “Karen Slaughter” will take someone direct to “Karin Slaughter”. So if you’re one of those people who e-mailed us asking why we don’t have “Michael Connolly” on our list then don’t worry – these e-mails were extremely helpful in building this database!

This also will be helpful when it comes to searching for those authors who randomly add or remove a middle initial from some books as well as other anomalies.

Last Name, First Name: This was a funny one. Out of nowhere, we started getting a list of authors to add that users didn’t think we had. They were in this format: “Child, Lee”. There were probably over 15 different requests like that in the space of a week. I spoke to a few people, and discovered that they were using their own lists where they format author names like that, or from a library app where they could export it into a spreadsheet. So we have updated the search engine so that if you search “Child, Lee” it will take you automatically to Lee Child’s page.

Most Followed Authors: In the sidebar, we now display the top 10 most followed authors in the last 24 hours. Just the tip of the iceberg in relation to statistics such as that. I can’t wait to play around with stats more down the road. So many cool things we can list!

New Content Added:

We don’t just add authors to Book Notification – we post news, and write some fun blog content too! Here are posts in that category from August:


Having quality content and discussion is always beneficial for websites. This month, I am asking you to write a comment on an authors page. It can be whatever you want. You can write about how they are your favourite author, or what their best book or series is. You could write about an adaptation of their book. Any and all comments are welcome.

We will give away 10 $25 USD gift cards to random people who have submitted a comment from the day this newsletter was published, up until the beginning of the next newsletter. Every comment earns you a “ticket” into the draw and you can enter multiple times.

You can find the comment form at the bottom of every authors page.

Thanks to everyone for your support. It’s been a fun ride so far, and I’m excited for everything that we have planned.



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