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Old 01-29-2022, 06:30 AM   #1
hildea
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Trying out mini book clubs (buddy reads) in Storygraph

The Storygraph is a Goodreads type site/app. I've used it a bit, and like it so far. Their business idea seems to be to make money from selling premium memberships, so their priority is the end users. (I suppose everyone has heard the adage about free services: "If you're not paying, you're not the customer, you're the product.") I like the functionality and user interface, and the book recommendations are good, so I'll probably pay to help keep the site alive, even though all the features I'm interested in are available in the free version so far.

They have a new feature, buddy reads, where you can invite up to four other users to read a book with you. You pick a book and get suggestions for people to invite, both people who have this book in their to-read-pile, and people picked by the site's predictive algorithm. You can specify if you're OK with getting invitations from strangers. (It's also possible to pick users first, and ask the algorithm to suggest books, but that's only available to paying users.)

While reading, you can see how far the others have read. When you enter comments, you mark them with how far you've got in the book, and the comments are locked for the other readers until they've come to that point in the book.

I've just tried it out, although I felt a bit self-conscious about inviting strangers to a read-along out of the blue. Of the four I invited, two have accepted so far. One of them had finished the book before I started and the other hasn't started yet. (I chose a novella so the commitment wouldn't be too big for a first try.)

We have exchanged a few comments, and I like the way it works. When I started reading, I could see that there was a comment waiting for me at 65% of the book. For books which are long and difficult to read, or for when I'm in a reading slump, this might help encourage me to continue reading. It's also nice to be able to comment on dramatic things that happen without having to worry about spoiling people.

Unlike the reading club here it's completely closed, I'm pretty sure only the participants can read it. That can be both a drawback and a good thing, I guess. The limit of four participants is a drawback, but they are working on a book club feature which will allow for unlimited participants.

All in all, I like this feature, and will probably try it again. If anyone wants to interact with me there, I'm hildea there as well. Feel free to invite me to buddy reads
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Old 01-29-2022, 06:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by hildea View Post
The Storygraph is a Goodreads type site/app. I've used it a bit, and like it so far. Their business idea seems to be to make money from selling premium memberships, so their priority is the end users. (I suppose everyone has heard the adage about free services: "If you're not paying, you're not the customer, you're the product.") I like the functionality and user interface, and the book recommendations are good, so I'll probably pay to help keep the site alive, even though all the features I'm interested in are available in the free version so far.

I have been a very vocal supporter of TSG (as in my sig) here since joining as one of the "Early Bird" paid members back in October 2020, before the site went fully live. Like Bitwarden, TSG is one of those ideas that I'm happy to support with my wallet even if the free version is adequate. I am very happy to pay for an ad-free site and I love that all the "social" features are strictly opt-in. My first year of paid membership expires in March and I've already bought my next 12 month membership. Great to see it getting more positive press here. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to come out of my hermit hole and join a buddy read yet, but I do like the implementation of the idea.
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Old 01-29-2022, 01:19 PM   #3
Dr. Drib
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I just joined and it looks great.

Thank you!
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Old 01-30-2022, 05:27 PM   #4
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I joined a few weeks ago and have liked it. I haven't done any of the buddy stuff. I don't really do social media at all as I dislike the mob mentality it seems to create, so I'm a bit cautious with that kind of thing. Your experience with the buddy read sounds very encouraging, though!

Last edited by kyrilson; 01-31-2022 at 07:59 AM. Reason: apostrophes came out weird for some reason
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Old 02-03-2022, 04:03 PM   #5
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I actually forgot about my storygraph account! So I checked out the buddy reads feature, it's a bit intimidating! It appears it recommends up to 6 random people. From what I'm getting, left column is people who might have similar interests to you, according to the ai, and they might not have that actual book on their list?? The right column seems to list people who may be interested in reading the book, like maybe it actually is on their to read list.

It's not clear to me how you would opt out of this if you didn't want people to ping you, or what happens when you reject an invite, which I assume you can. It's kinda weird to just invite complete strangers to read with you. Then there's the whole issue of do you (or they) reject or ignore if not interested, hoping that other person isn't going to freak out because you said no to their invite. I'm also not clear how you interact as a group and keep track. Is it just like those shut up and read kinda meetings?

I think it would be better to just post a book club and let people join? I dunno. I haven't found the whole virtual book club thing to work out very well. People get excited and then drop out. It's better in person.

It would be less nervewracking I think if there was some sort of community interaction already, where you could interact and realize you have similar interests and then decide to read as a group. I haven't used the site much, but it doesn't seem like you can interact much with other people, not as you would on an online community/forum.

Last edited by grogu; 02-03-2022 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 02-04-2022, 12:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grogu View Post
It appears it recommends up to 6 random people. From what I'm getting, left column is people who might have similar interests to you, according to the ai, and they might not have that actual book on their list?? The right column seems to list people who may be interested in reading the book, like maybe it actually is on their to read list.
Yes, I think that's right. I invited two from each column. I refreshed the page a few times before picking someone to invite. The first results gave me some people whose taste in books seemed too different from mine.

Quote:
It's not clear to me how you would opt out of this if you didn't want people to ping you
You are opted out by default, and have to opt in. Go to your profile, and change your setting for who can invite you from "Nobody" to "Friends", "Friends & People I follow", or "Anybody". There are similar choices for all social features, so noone can follow you or send you friend requests until you allow it.

Quote:
or what happens when you reject an invite, which I assume you can.
We could test it, if you like? You can invite me to a buddy read, I'll reject the invite, and we can see what that looks like. I'm hildea there as well. You can delete buddy reads, so you don't have to have it cluttering up your profile afterwards.

Quote:
It's kinda weird to just invite complete strangers to read with you. Then there's the whole issue of do you (or they) reject or ignore if not interested, hoping that other person isn't going to freak out because you said no to their invite.
Yes, it did feel weird to invite someone out of the blue. But at least I knew that all of them had gone to their profile and chosen that they were OK with receiving buddy read invitations from anyone on the site. It's also possible to send a comment with the invite, so I tried to say something hopefully not-too-alarming there.

I thought about starting a thread here at Mobileread first, asking for people to try it out with me, but right now there doesn't seem to be much interest for book clubs here, so the odds of finding anyone seemed low.

I'd assume that anyone who's willing to invite strangers to a read-along is robust and realistic enough not to freak out or take it personally if an invitation is rejected.

Quote:
I'm also not clear how you interact as a group and keep track. Is it just like those shut up and read kinda meetings?
I'm adding some screendumps here so you can see for yourself. (I've blanked out info about the other users + spoilers.)

Quote:
I think it would be better to just post a book club and let people join? I dunno. I haven't found the whole virtual book club thing to work out very well. People get excited and then drop out. It's better in person.
I've only tried one in-person book club, but it had the same problem. In addition, we had very different taste in books. Online it's at least easier to find people who like the same kind of books as you do.

But I agree that a book club feature would be better. They are planning that, I'll check it out when it comes.

Quote:
It would be less nervewracking I think if there was some sort of community interaction already, where you could interact and realize you have similar interests and then decide to read as a group. I haven't used the site much, but it doesn't seem like you can interact much with other people, not as you would on an online community/forum.
I see your point. I did miss a forum or somewhere I could post and ask for people to join a buddy read. On the other hand, it's refreshing with a site that does one thing and does it well, instead of trying to do too much.

I was looking for a place to write something about myself on my profile, but there isn't one. The only personal info I get about other people is their profile image, user name, and (if they've chosen to share it) their opinion of the books they read. Thinking about it I like it.
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