Friday, September 21, 2007

Import Your Books & Quick Rating

One of the biggest challenges with adding new features to FictionDB is the database structure. When FictionDB first opened its virtual doors in 1999, the site consisted of Authors and Titles. Period. As we added data to the site, we kept the existing database structure -- authors and titles. The biggest advantage to FictionDB's structure has been that the books are not ISBN dependent, the ISBNs are book dependent. This really cuts down on the clutter for an author. Visit any major bookselling site and type in an author name. You will basically get an ISBN list with every version of every title -- try doing an author search for Nora Roberts on Amazon (3091 entries for her 161 titles).

We have had numerous requests for an upload feature and we have always wanted to provide one, but how could we do it with our existing structure? No matter how clear you are about upload formats, even a minor misspelling in an author name or title would result in a rejection. So last year when we started providing multiple ISBNs for each title, we finally had a way to match books for an upload.

Import ISBNs can be found on your My Account page and on My Bookshelf, My Wishlist and My Archive. You can import your books with just an ISBN list or you can add additional information -- your rating and when you read the book. You can also specify where in FictionDB you'd like your import to go. See the page for all the specifics.

So, you don't have a list of all your ISBNs, what can you do? For around $10, you can buy a Cuecat barcode scanner on eBay. You can then scan your books directly into the import page. I love my Cuecat and am currently on my fourth one.

Wait a minute, I've already put all my books into FictionDB. What benefit do I get from all this? Well, you can now specify the ISBN of the book you own. We've pre-filled your existing books with the mass market paperback edition. Feel free to go in and change this if you want. We'll be adding large print and audio editions next month.

If we don't currently have the ISBN for your book in the database, there's now a quick and easy way to add it. Type in the ISBN on the Book Detail page and we'll add it in the next update.

We've also implemented Quick Rating. For those of us who don't always write notes about what we've read, we can now rate a book from the Book Detail page. This new box is located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. You can rate your book (the date read defaults to the current month), move it from shelf to shelf or delete it. You can also click through to the full edit page.

We're also working on an export feature and a user-defined printing feature, so look for those in the months ahead.