Book Notification Newsletter: January 2024

By: Graeme, January 27th, 2024 5:01 pm.

Graeme Reading Hi everyone, and welcome to the Book Notification January Newsletter!

I hope you are all enjoying the new tagging system.

One of the first things I did with it was go through my Want To Read list of over 1200 books, and tag various books as “Priority TBR”. After I finished that, I realized I had over 300 books tagged as that. So I went in again, and changed tags to “Top Priority TBR”. I got that list down to about 120 books.

There’s just so many potentially great books out there I want to read! I’ll keep chipping away at it.

When we launched the tagging system on the anniversary of our beta launch earlier this month, we also launched a new logo. Big shout-out to my friend Frank, who got me this incredible office accessory:

And of course much to the chagrin of my family – it lights up nice and bright:

From now until March, much of our work will focus on internal jobs to make life easier down the road for Book Notification. Future-proofing it, essentially.

One big project we are tackling at the moment is a “ticket system” for managing incoming emails. I’ve been handling e-mails since the site has launched, but as the site grows, the e-mail quantity grows and it’s just getting a bit too much. We’re at the point where we are receiving 200+ emails per day. So now we are implementing a ticket system for e-mails, with a few different Book Notification staff members (including myself) handling things. That will make the process a lot easier, and allow me to focus my time on other site-related items.

Of course, we still want to launch new features even as we work on things behind the scenes. A couple of new features this month are listed below and have launched today. A strong focus on optional items that some of you may not be interested in, but others will love, and an early phase of diving into providing user stats.

I always appreciate your e-mails and feedback, and it’s great seeing the ideas spawned from many of them. I don’t just receive an e-mail about a data issue, fix it and move on. I stop and think “Is there any way to improve this, or stop it happening again?”

For example – in 2022 when we were preparing for the beta launch for the site, we hired a couple of people to focus on basic data entry for authors. This would include the likes of birthdate, nationality, gender etc. Humans are prone to errors. It happens. Even Jack Reacher has made errors on occasion! And this month I received a couple of e-mails pointing out our system was saying a couple of authors were over 1000 years old. I’d also received a couple of e-mails about authors who had passed, and our data hadn’t noted that.

Not only did I appreciate that so I could fix those issues, but this helped spawn a new section in the backend: a section that identifies any absurd ages for correction. That also includes publication dates as often when a book is pulled from publication, instead of removing it, retailers change the publication date to 2059 or 2079. We have a system that tracks publication date changes as it is, but good to have those ones highlighted.

This also resulted in setting up a page that lists authors over a certain age, and then I was able to go in and check if those authors were still alive. Quite a morbid job, to be honest! However this all resulted in putting a system in place to track authors, and setting up notifications if they die.

Then it can be implementing small changes to enhance the experience for new users. Last year, we had some people request the Book Manage popup doesn’t automatically pop up. We added an option in the settings to disable it. However we still got e-mails about it as new users weren’t aware – so now we have added a message to the bottom of the modal, informing users they can turn it off in settings. It’s just neat finding all these little ways that significantly enhance the user experience

So it’s always cool seeing ideas spawned just from e-mails. Occasionally, we have an item on our to do list that is way down the priority list, but an e-mail suggesting it gets me motivated, and next thing you know it’s at the top of the priority list and implemented. So keep sending that feedback – I am committed to making this the best website for readers, and appreciate any and all ideas, suggestions, or pointing out data issues. We have also set the Tuesday e-mail to display the next 6 months of new books for you, and will allow people to choose the amount of months upcoming books are displayed in a future site update.

Last month, I ran a contest where every comment you make on an authors page will earn you entry into a draw with 10 $25 Amazon gift cards as a prize, and will run that contest again this month. Note: Each comment counts as an entry, and it’s possible to win multiple times. We received over 200 comments within the last month. Thank you to everyone who contributed – you are really helping out the website. Here are the winners this month:

  1. Bud
  2. cindymill91
  3. cpottsy71
  4. Dana C.
  5. dmjsr
  6. Kmlj
  7. Kris G.
  8. Renni
  9. Ruth R.
  10. SURDEN7

I’ve sent you all an e-mail.

Cheers,

Graeme
Book Notification Founder


New Features


Author Insights: This is a statistical insight about each author on Book Notification, and is found at the bottom of each author page. We intend to add one datapoint every month to it. We launched it last month with a list of authors who are commonly followed by users who follow that specific author.

This month, we have added information on what each author’s current highest rated book is on Book Notification.

Date Started: We’ve always had the option for users to enter the date that they finished a book. However, we had some users request the option to add when they started a book. I dig that! It means when we dive into year end stats, we can include stats related to how fast a user finishes a book. You will now see this when you enter the book manage popup and like everything on Book Notification – it’s completely optional.

Book Data: As you can see above, we now have a new tab called “Book Data”.

There are some users who have stated that they’d like to track page count of a book. The issue for us is that we don’t list all 40 different editions of each book to track all the different page counts.

Plus due to all the different editions, that “page count” metric always felt quite useless to me on a universal scale. I can read the same book as you, but due to the edition you read, you read 126 more pages than me? It just never sat right with me.

On top of that – many page counts out there are just plain wrong.

So we decided to do this on a pure user-by-user level. If you are interested in tracking the amount of pages you have read, you can now do so. For each book, you can enter the page count in the “Book Data” field. That will track it for you and will be displayed in your statistics.

On top of that, we’ve added another optional field: Time Read. I know most people don’t do this – but there are a couple of people out there who like to track the specific length it took them to actually read a book.

We strive to accommodate all users, so we have added that field for any users who wish to track that:

Enable Audiobook Features: This is a toggle found in your settings page which is off by default. If you are a big audiobook reader, then you will likely want to turn on this feature.

Currently, all it enables is on the “Book Data” tab of the popup. You can insert the length of the audiobook, as shown below:

We have more features planned for audiobook readers in the upcoming months, including the much-requested “display if an audiobook is available”. The work involved in that is a lot, but I just want you to know it’s on our radar.

Reading Challenge & Stats: Our reading challenge page has been updated for 2024. We are still investing a lot more time and effort into the whole reading challenge side of things, but all the big work for that will probably be more targeted towards 2025. I’ve recently got into a couple of reading challenges and it’s “clicked” for me – so I’m excited to work on that section.

On that page, it will display the books you read in 2024. There is also a drop-down menu so that you can change it to see books that you have read in 2023 etc.

On top of that, we’ve added some basic stats to that page. If you use the book data features, it will list the pages you have read, time spent reading and time listened to audiobooks. Lots more stats will be coming soon, and eventually there will be enough to warrant their own tab. I love stats!

Upcoming Books by Popular Authors: We already do the weekly post listing upcoming books by all authors on Book Notification. We’ve now started a monthly post, highlighting the upcoming books for the next month by our most popular authors. We’re still tweaking and perfecting this, but you can see the Popular Book Releases: February 2024 article now.


New Content Added


At Book Notification, we do more than just add authors – we post news and write some fun blog content too! Here are posts in that category from the last few weeks:


Contest


Having quality content and discussion is always beneficial for our website. This month, I am again 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 ten $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. Each comment earns you an entry (or ‘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 truly appreciated.

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