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Can Booklikes be the next Goodreads?

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We're swamped with social media sites. There's Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Path. And Instagram, and Pinterest. For book lovers, there are Goodreads and LibraryThing. Do we really need another site?

Maybe.

Some of the biggest social media sites have been eagerly acquired by other companies. Facebook bought Instagram, Yahoo got Tumblr. Of most interest to readers, Amazon bought Goodreads.

It's easy to see how Goodreads fits into Amazon. Goodreads has reader reviews, millions of registered users who've willingly shared data about their book-buying habits, and a community of readers that goes to the site specifically to engage with fellow readers about books.

But for a minority of Goodreads users, the match was problematic. Some expressed unhappiness with the arrangement on Twitter, where writer Emily Gould wrote, "is it normal to be sort of slightly crying at your desk because Amazon bought goodreasd?" Authors Guild president Scott Turow explained, "Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads is a textbook example of how modern Internet monopolies can be built."

Some decided to leave Goodreads behind. "I've used Goodreads for about three years now, but today I made the decision to permanently delete my account," Katie Fransen declared on Huffington Post. "I'm not going to lie -- I'm afraid. Amazon has taken over major ways of buying, publishing, and now exploring books. I don't want a giant corporation telling me what to read."

Will readers like Fransen be willing to start all over again on a new book social networking site? Booklikes founder Dawid Piaskowski hopes so.

After a long development period, Booklikes launched in May. Its interface is part Tumblr, particularly in two aspects: each user has a blog within the site, and the main dashboard page includes a Tumblr-like feed from other blogs. And it's also part Goodreads, with a visual bookshelf that users can fill with books they've read and add reviews.

Signing up for a free Booklikes account can be done either using an email address or with Facebook. Using Facebook means being easily able to connect with friends who are on both Facebook and Booklikes -- but people concerned with Internet company centralization may be disinclined to take that route.

Then again, being connected to other readers -- being social -- is an essential part of a social network. If Booklikes is going to evolve into another Goodreads, millions of people will have to sign up for the service and start talking to each other there.

We asked Piaskowski about his plans for Booklikes via email.

First, where are you - New York, L.A., Poland, elsewhere?

The company is currently based in Poland but later this year we are moving our business HQ to New York or California.

Does Booklikes exist in languages other than English?

It exists in English, German and Polish. Soon we'll be releasing more languages as we already operate in 12 countries.

What kind of reader do you think will most benefit from Booklikes?

BookLikes has an offer for all kinds for readers. I've noticed at least three main kinds of users on BookLikes:
1) people who read a lot and want to express themselves - they want to write reviews, share bookish news, inspiring quotes, interesting videos or even funny photos in a fast and easy way. All of them can reach other book readers and gain new followers.

2) people looking for book recommendations - those who read other users’ texts and reviews and follow their blogs but don't write their own reviews. They are looking for news and reviews, sometimes create other kinds of posts, share interesting articles, funny photos or reblog favorite posts written by other bloggers.

3) people who are looking for a virtual bookshelf for their book collection - people who don't need social features. They use BookLikes to catalogue and organize their books on a virtual bookshelf and reading timeline.

Are you working with any publishers?

BookLikes' current look emerged thanks to ideas of our users, mainly book bloggers. We consulted some of our ideas with bookstores and publishers. We haven't started official cooperation with any publisher yet but we would be very pleased to invite them on BookLikes. Right now they can create a profile on BookLikes and promote books they are publishing and authors they support among a BookLikes community.

What are your long-term plans for Booklikes - do you think it may include advertising, or become part of a larger company?

We are working on ads & analytics platforms for authors, bookstores and publishers. BookLikes will have ads but the kind of ads that users can benefit from, e.g. book coupons, daily deals, new releases.

It seems like you've been working on this for at least two years. What inspired you to begin working on Booklikes?

We are avid readers and serial entrepreneurs. None of the existing services pleased us enough so we've decided to create a new kind of quality.

What kind of books do you yourself like to read?

I read business books, classic fantasy and sci-fi.
 

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Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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