Monday, July 27, 2009

FictionDB on Facebook and Twitter

With the rise of social media and our recent obsession with Facebook, we are going to be moving most of our communication outside of this blog.

Visit FictionDB -- Your Guide to Authors & Books
Visit the FictionDB Blog now located on the site itself

I'm really more of a 2-line Facebooker than a blogger, so this fits my writing style perfectly. One of the reasons I never blog is that I feel like I have to come up with some big long article. Well, Facebook and Twitter are all about short sound-bytes, so you'll hear more from me.

I'm going to be posting FictionDB tips on the Facebook FictionDB page, so become a fan and see what you've been missing.

You can follow me on the FictionDB Twitter page.

All of these links are now available from the homepage and are a great way to promote FictionDB. If you're a big fan of our site, help us promote it!

Monday, July 06, 2009

FictionDB Celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a New Look and New Features

It's hard to believe that FictionDB is now 10 years old. It seems like just yesterday that I launched the very first version of the site. It was a very memorable occasion because I was racing to launch the site before my first child was born. Luckily my son didn't come early! We've even gone back to our original slogan -- your guide to authors and books. Everything does eventually come full circle.

As most of you have noticed, the new FictionDB was made available to the public this weekend. A few minor hiccups along the way, but the site is now stable.

I want to send out a huge thanks to the FictionDB Redesign Team -- a group of volunteers who put the new site to the test before the launch. They came up with some great ideas on how to improve the site. Thanks for all your patience and feedback!

The new FictionDB functions much like the old site. I encourage you to click on everything you see. Most text has information about the feature (make sure you click the lightbulbs at least). A few things have changed and here's what you'll see:

1) a much cleaner, uncluttered design

2) simpler navigation using breadcrumbs at the top of most pages

3) an improved search box at the top of each page -- use the dropdown menu to choose how you'd like to search.

4) streamlined layout for author and book pages -- the right hand column on each page gives you quick access to information

5) a better system for cataloguing your books

-- book lists that can be named by you. Your books are still in the same place. We've just done away with the words bookshelf, wishlist and archive.

-- lists by author A-Z so you don't have to scroll through all the authors

-- quicker access to your books from most pages on the site

-- easily filter your books using a wide variety of criteria

-- keep track of your favorite authors

-- rate authors

-- set a status for your book. Click on the blue box to the left of your list icons on any author page. You'll find lots of ways to classify your reading.

6) an updated new releases area

-- searching by date now shows reissues as well as new releases

-- use the filters at the top of the page to find just the books you're looking for. I encourage everyone to play around with the filters to get used to how they work.

7) a new Top Authors page listing some of the most-visited authors by genre

As I've said in previous posts, this redesign was necessary from an infrastructure standpoint. Now that the base has been completed, we can easily add new features, so the site is by no means done. You can expect lots of little upgrades in the next couple of months.

I know change can be tough on some people, but I think you'll find that the new site delivers a better experience for everyone.

What happened to...?

Printer-friendly listings -- you can still easily print listings -- we recommend highlighting what you want to print and then click on File -- Print -- Selection. You can print as little or as much as you'd like.

New Releases by Authors on my Bookshelf -- if an author resides in your catalog, he/she was given Favorite Author status during the cutover. You can add and delete favorite authors by clicking on the little red heart. On the new releases page look to the far right. You will see a dropdown titled Filters. Select Favorite Authors and only books by your favorite authors will be displayed.

We're very proud of the new site and hope you'll like using it. As always, feel free to tell us what you think of the new features.

And now after working 7 days a week on this for the last 5 months, I'm going to go lay by a pool for a week!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

FictionDB Redesign Is Complete

The member areas of FictionDB will be unavailable on Saturday, July 4th, as we cutover to the newly redesigned site. The basic information will still be available to everyone -- author lists, new releases, etc.

All member data will be moved to the new site and your existing username and password will continue to work after the cutover.

Thanks for your patience during the transition.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What Should You Read Next?

Good question. We all go through it at one time or another --2000 books on your bookshelf and nothing to read.

I'll be giving a free talk (no registration required) on this subject next week. It will be Wednesday, April 15, at 7:00 p.m. at the Torrance Public Library. The presentation will cover defining your reading tastes, genre descriptions, and internet resources. Believe it or not, FictionDB is not the only resource on the web for books.

If you live in Southern California and want to come to the talk, I'd love to meet you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The FictionDB Redesign

Whether you're a long-time FictionDB visitor or have just found us, we'd like you to have a say in how the future FictionDB will look and function.

Why does FictionDB have to change?
FictionDB will be ten years old in November. Much of what you see on the current site has been around for a long time. Technology has drastically changed and with the site's recent growth spurt, we need to take advantage of that. While FictionDB is currently not broken, it could break in the future if we are not prepared.

What input do we need from our visitors?
We'd like you to tell us what you like and don't like about the site. How can the site better serve your reading needs? The site is going to be rewritten from scratch so here is your chance to make it exactly what you want.

When will the redesign be done?
Good question. We don't know. It will take as long it takes. As soon as we get a test version up and running, the redesign team will be invited to take it for a test drive.

How to join the FictionDB Redesign Team.
We've started a Google Group that can be found here:

Everyone is invited to join and share their thoughts on the process. We think getting your input is really important to the future of FictionDB.

Friday, January 09, 2009

eBooks -- Thanks, but no thanks

I had never read an eBook until yesterday. I never had any reason to. Every book that I've ever wanted to read is available in print format. For me, reading is a sensory pleasure. I relax on a comfortable couch, proving the old adage -- curled up with a good book. I enjoy the feel of books and I like flipping around in the book, reading sentences here or there just to get an idea of where I'm going. None of this can be done with an eBook and I've never wanted to try -- until yesterday.

A couple of days ago I read Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn in one sitting -- over 750 pages. Luckily I had that comfortable couch. For fans of the Twilight saga, you already know the scandal attached to Midnight Sun, Twilight told from Edward's point-of-view. For those of you who don't, an early draft of the book was printed on the internet and the author was so upset she isn't sure she's ever going to finish it. Meyer posted the draft on her own site to forestall illegal downloads elsewhere. So there it is -- a 264 page book only available in electronic format that I had to read.

I did it. I read that book on my computer and it was the longest couple of hours of reading I can remember. I was miserable -- no comfy couch, no thumbing through the pages. It completely messed with my vision for awhile after finishing it -- that scared me the most. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, but it's not the kind of absorbed focus you use when reading a book. I do not EVER want to read another eBook.

I know that other eBook machines may allow me to move to that comfy couch, but the other physical discomforts remain. I've taken a close look at the Kindle and the Sony reader, but neither of them made me want to really read a book on them. I got an iPod Touch for Christmas, but the thought of trying to read a book on that is ludicrous! (FictionDB looks great on it though)

Besides my dislike of the physical unpleasantness associated with eBooks, there are several other reasons I won't read eBooks. I love nothing more than finding good books to read and giving them to my friends to try. eBooks are a one-person affair. You download it once and that's it. Now, you can lend someone your Kindle and they can read it there, but let's be real. If I paid that much for an e-reader, there is no way I'd ever lend it out. Telling someone "Go download this book. It's really great" is just not the same as handing it to them. The ability to handsell a book is completely gone with an eBook. I can't tell you how many books I handsell for the book stores I frequent -- they should really pay me! I also love to possess books. I will stand in front of my bookshelves and just savor the feeling of owning all those glorious books. Not quite the same with an eBook.

So what does this mean for my future reading? Everyone says that eBooks are the future. For non-fiction reference materials, I completely agree. The ability to search a book and find relevant information works perfectly with an electronic format. But what about fiction? That thing we all love so much? To tell you the truth, this scares me to death. Will I be able to find new books in the format I want? I do have over 3000 books I haven't read yet and that will certainly keep me going for a while. Maybe the demise of the traditional book won't happen until after I'm gone -- that's what I really hope.