Social media, simultaneously indispensable and inescapable for millions of people, impacts everyone differently. Contrary to popular belief, however, it needn’t merely promote peer pressure and damage mental health. Instead, it can function as a haven for book lovers around the world.
For at least the past fifteen years bibliophiles have congregated on established platforms, while other sites have been founded specifically to accommodate reader communities. This is an introduction to five social media apps that benefit book fans, whatever their interests.
Launched in 2007, Goodreads is a social cataloguing website and veritable book database that facilitates literary discussions of all kinds. Users may read and write book reviews and recommendations, and on their profile page create personal reading lists to show others what they’ve read, what they want to read, and what they’re reading currently. The Goodreads Recommendation Engine also enables book discovery, a hallmark of the site, by using multiple algorithms.
Additionally, the annual Goodreads Choice Awards serve to recommend reading material by showcasing users’ top picks in a variety of genres and inviting investigation of the winning books. Users may interact via the ‘follow’ and ‘add friend’ buttons as well as in comments and direct messages; the entire website comprises a single community in this way, allowing members the opportunity to easily initiate conversation. The platform has been criticised for prioritising book ratings above important characteristics such as pacing and mood, and users have complained of an unintuitive interface. Despite these grievances, Goodreads continues to attract internet denizens and stands today as one of the largest online book communities with close to 100,000,000 members.
Goodreads is available on desktop and mobile.
This microblogging and social networking service seems the ideal means of discovering what’s trending in the world, including books. Though many understand Twitter to be a place for anyone and everyone to broadcast their own sometimes controversial opinions and ideologies, it is also a unique online space for readers, writers and publishing professionals alike to share their love of books. Positives include easy accessibility and connectivity to publishing news.
Follow fellow readers and favourite authors to receive literary updates and learn about books still in the works. Predictably, the site’s emphasis on information occasionally results in unsolicited tweet recommendations and directions to irrelevant news stories. Nevertheless, the service is valuable to those interested in ongoing campaigns and other publishing happenings. Moreover, interaction on Twitter is straightforward and often rewarding in the bibliophile community; keeping up to date with and even contacting beloved authors couldn’t be simpler.
Twitter is available on desktop and mobile.
Another popular social media site, Instagram is a primarily visual platform that allows users to upload images and captions as permanent posts or temporary stories. Book fanatics have managed to create a niche in this ocular world in the form of ‘bookstagrams’. Book-themed Instagram accounts have grown in popularity in recent years, and each takes a different approach regarding its content.
Some focus on location and upload photographs of treasured reading nooks, libraries and bookshops. Others dedicate themselves to book reviews, written as captions, where the owner summarises their thoughts on a text and invites followers to do the same. Posts published by these accounts often feature the hashtag #bookstagram to allow like-minded users to find them, thus expanding both their own following and the community as a whole. Delightfully punny handles and usernames, another means of bookstagram identification, make for an added bonus. As a side note, many ‘how-to’ blog posts exist online for those wishing to adopt an active role in the Instagram book community by curating their own themed account.
Instagram is available on desktop and mobile.
If you’re searching for a reader-focused social media app that revolves exclusively around books, then look no further than Litsy. While retaining familiar features such as likes, comments and followers, Litsy manages to freshly stimulate users with more innovative attributes (as well as a pleasant absence of selfies and holiday photos endemic to Instagram). Posts constitute literary photos, quotes, short blurbs or reviews and, like most social media, captions with hashtags.
Here ‘stacks’ replace reading lists and even help users to accumulate ‘litfluence’, which tracks and rewards engagement with scores for categories including books and pages read, likes, comments and book adds. Litsy’s biggest virtue is arguably its emphasis on user interaction and fostering connections through a mutual love of books. As it says of itself, “Litsy is the platform where books make friends”.
Litsy is available on desktop and mobile.
Although Bookly is not strictly social media, the stories featured in the community tab and the adorable virtual assistant Bloo warrant the app a second glance. Bookly is essentially a book tracking and management app that aims to help users achieve their daily, monthly and yearly reading goals. Like many applications dedicated to healthy habit formation, this takes a statistical approach in order to motivate users with data concerning their progress and objectives.
As the App Store page promises, Bookly enables users to track their reading time, catalogue each book they read, set reading goals, receive personalised tips to improve reading skills, and more. Bookly is free to download, though encourages users to unlock benefits beyond the basic package and upgrade to pro for various prices: £4.49 for one month, £17.49 for six months and £26.49 for a whole year.