Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Books That Change Our Lives

When my dad was a child in the 1940's he read a book called Mickey Sees the USA -- Mickey Mouse touring the country in a car pulling a trailer. This book changed my father's life forever. He, too, wanted to see the USA by car. I grew up spending two weeks every summer in a car pulling a trailer, seeing the country. My parents now have a bus-like motor home and they go around the country every fall on their way to their RV home in Happy Trails, Arizona. To this day, that faded old book rides around the country in that motor home.

The book that has had the most impact on my life is Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn M. Bates. When I was in my early twenties, right out of college, I played trivia every Tuesday night at a local bar with a group of friends from work. The average age of this group was around 50, so these people were much more experienced in life than I was. While all the people my own age quickly became bored with the Tuesday night group, I loved it. For the first time in my life, I was socializing with what I would call "intellectuals". Why did I prefer this group over the party-loving people that made up most of the other groups I knew? One night at trivia, one of the men told me I must be an NT to love going to trivia every week. NT? What the heck was an NT? They gave me this book to read and I was hooked. It explained so much about me and why I always felt different from everyone else. It's based on the Meyers-Briggs assessment which I'm sure anyone who's ever worked in a large corporation has taken at one point or another. If you've never taken the test, you can do so here. I am an ENTJ (there are 16 types) -- women of this type account for less than 1% of the general population. The book jokingly refers to this type as Stranger in a Strange Land. There are many more books and tests based on this research and I have read most of them. They provide a great framework for anyone trying to understand the people around them -- particularly if you're like me and no one around you is like you :) When I was working as a manager, I tried to get my people to take the test so we could all communicate better. No luck. Most people are intimidated by this sort of thing, so I then found the book The Art of Speedreading People by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. It shows you how to recognize a person's communication style without having to administer a test. How perfect is that?

Okay, you're thinking, that's a weird look at Kelly's quirkiness, but what does any of this have to do with FictionDB? Well, a lot, actually. I've been spending a lot of time lately visiting all the other book information sites on the web and trying to figure out what kinds of people they appeal to. Someone like me goes to a book social networking site and freaks out and runs away. "Where's the order? The consistency? It's not organized. Where's the organization?" Now, someone else goes to that same site and thinks "Cool, I can see all these people and what they're reading. I don't care about organization, I just want to meet people." So chances are, if you're a frequent FictionDB visitor, you probably have a J at the end of your Meyers-Briggs type. J's account for 50% of the population and are characterized by orderliness.

Given that I only read 1 or 2 non-fiction books a year, it's pretty funny that the book that changed my life is non-fiction.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Catalog your books at FictionDB!

It seems that every book site out there lets you catalog your books for free and so now FictionDB will, too. Sign-up and start adding books to your shelves right away. Don’t forget you can do bulk uploads, too.

If you have had a FictionDB account in the past (even a trial subscription), you can now login for free to that same account. At login you will be directed to a payment page. You can choose to continue with payment or choose the free membership. Just click on Continue With Free Membership at the upper right-hand side of the payment screen.

Along with this new change, we have reduced the price of an annual membership to $20. To see what each of the feature sets includes, take a look at our comparison chart. We have also discontinued the free trial and the free book with membership promotion.

So, why are we making all these changes? Well, it’s all about growth. FictionDB needs to grow and find new people who value what we have to offer. There are quite a few tools out there (mostly inaccurate) that measure traffic to the different sites and we have taken a good, hard look at our competition. Every business needs to assess its position in the marketplace now and then and determine what changes, if any, need to be made. The changes we are making reflect that analysis.

But what about revenue, you might ask? Aren’t we just throwing away money by reducing the membership price? Yes and no. We all remember Economics 101 – supply and demand. Same thing here, short term revenue loss for long term viability. So, if you decide not to renew your membership and just use the free features, please support our advertisers and our affiliate programs with Amazon – particularly when you decide to buy that big-screen TV :)

So, if a lot of the site is free, why should you subscribe? For less than $2 a month, you can support the effort in maintaing the site. Isn't that reason enough? No? Well, there are a few key features not included for free. The biggest is the Advanced Search. No other site lets you search through synopses, time periods, sub-genres, you name it. The Google search for FictionDB is good, but it will never search the actual database for exact criteria. Another key feature in the premium site is the lack of ads. Without ads on each page, the information can be arranged in a more user-friendly fashion. Many of us are also getting internet-ready cell phones and want the ability to keep track of our reading on-the-go. The FictionDB mobile site is part of the upgraded version.

We hope you like the new changes and find FictionDB to still be the best source of fiction information on the internet. If not, let us know about it!

*** A note to current subscribers: If you subscribed within the last three months at $29.99, three additional months have been added to the length of your subscription. If you are having trouble logging in or receiving errors, see this blog article.

Trouble Logging In?

For subscribers: if you're having trouble logging in or are receiving error messages, do the following:

Click on Login at the top of the page
Click on Clear Cookies
Login again and save your login details

I will have a full blog later today on the changes to the site.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fun With Book Covers

I've been meaning to do something better with book covers on FictionDB and I finally got around to it. The old author cover gallery pages were boring and not very user-friendly, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

The new cover galleries are much more visual with the covers 5 to a row (subscribers) and 4 to a row (non-subscribers). I've been having a great time today just browsing all the authors. Check out the Cassie Edwards cover gallery or the Debbie Macomber cover gallery. You get the idea that there really aren't that many cover variations out there.

I'll be working on the other cover galleries too (series, search results, etc.), but I thought you'd enjoy this first view.