I want to start with a confession. I am addicted to social networks. There, I said it. Maybe I am not one of their more active members, but I have an account in each and every one of them. Name a social network and you’ll probably find me there. Ever since the naive days of Myspace, when I didn’t really understand what is it good for but had the feeling I was participating in a global revolution. Then came Facebook, the blue brother who’s watching you, followed by Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest, and I swear to God that I have tried to understand the big fuss about Snapchat, but I guess after a certain age you just don’t have the mental tools to cope with this app.
When you take it all into account, you would expect that due to my uncontrolled love for books and my attraction to social networks I will find a perfect home in Goodreads, the social network that is dedicated to books. This is exactly what I thought the first time I logged into my Goodreads account, but not long after I was proven wrong. Although I really tried, I just couldn’t get myself to connect to it, for many reasons. I found it a little anemic, and the discussions somewhat tedious, and the dozens of messages offering me to send questions to Neil Gaiman or George Martin or whoever it is that day (and why would I want to ask them questions when I can use this time to read a book). And don’t get me started on the site’s hideous design.
I guess the site’s design had a huge part in my irrational detest. What can we do, we live in a visual world. You wouldn’t believe how many books I’ve bought solely based on the design of their cover, without even reading the summary. I found some wonderful books using this method, ones that I would never bother to buy if I have read the back cover. I also ran into some awful books, but there is a small surprise there. I reckon this can explain some of Instagram’s success. Because it gives people the opportunity to express themselves visually, with little effort, and from the other end, doesn’t require much thinking from their followers.
If there is one thing that Instagram doesn’t lack is pictures of kittens. Books, however, are a rare sight on the app’s feed. Try to remember when was the last time you saw in it a photo of a book, or an inspiring quote, or a midnight selfie with Charles Dickens.
This is where Litsy gets in the picture (ha ha). Litsy, that was launched last February, is a new marvelous social network that is dedicated to books and looks like the bespectacled version of Instagram. The app enables you to post quotes, reviews or blurbs about books, and if you want (and you want, trust me), upload a nice picture to make it easy on the viewer’s eye. To keep the discussion on the literature level, each post must be tagged with a book, while the followers can add the book to their stack and to mark if they read (and if so, whether they liked it or not), if they are currently reading or if they plan to read it in the future, and of course to like and comment on the posts.
But it doesn’t end there. To make things interesting, the developers of Litsy added some gamification features to the app. Any time you followers comment on one of your posts, like them, or add a book you have tagged to their stack you get Litfluence points. The points mean nothing, but they sure motivate you to take an active part in the discussions. And if you are new users, don’t worry. Each user starts with 42 Litfluence points to help him find the answer to life, the universe and everything.
So if the app launched last February, what the hell took me so long to write about it? Simply, up until last Friday, Litsy was only available on IOS devices (the iPhone family), while yours truly has an Android phone. For months I have waited for the app to break the code barrier that divided us, and now, that it’s finally here, I can honestly say it is all more than I’ve been hoping for it to be.
If I managed to intrigue your curiosity, you can download the app here, and you are more than welcome to post your username in the comments. (Don’t forget to come and say hello: I’m yoavshai).
See you there!