Like so many of the arts, the book world is having to adapt to life online. It is to be hoped that, as the radio was not displaced by television and television has not been displaced by the internet, there is still room for the beloved book in the modern world. Here is a selection of book-friendly websites taking advantage of the internet to keep the business of past and present literature thriving.
This website is like an old loyal friend to the bookworms among us, especially those in book clubs. It is also the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. What are your mates reading? This Amazon company and ‘social cataloguing’ site launched in 2007. Its innovative tool ‘Meet your next favourite book’ generates potential picks for you based on your previous reads that you enjoyed. Look to the Goodreads Choice Awards for the Best Books year by year.
You know you like a certain author. Want to know what like-minded readers choose next? Literature Map is a site based on Gnooks, the literature recommendation system by Gnod (the Global Network of Discovery). It works rather like a family tree linking authors and themes together. The closer two writers are on the map, the more likely someone will like both of them. Type in your favourite author and see which fellow authors spring up. It’s quite helpful, but more a fun little game.
THE GUARDIAN - BOOKS
No other literary magazine is required when you have the Guardian to play with. Packed with excellent book-related content in the shape of constantly updated news, reviews, criticism and blogs, you could easily lose hours in this place. What are you reading this week? Read their tips, links and suggestions. The Guardian even ran its own ‘Not the Booker Prize’, the result of which was decided by Guardian readers themselves.
BOOK COVER ARCHIVE
We know, never judge a book by a cover, and all that. But sometimes, we want to exactly that. Book Cover Archive treats books as works of art. You choose it’s book by its cover alone. The site is ‘for the ’appreciation and categorisation of book cover design’. Judge away. We won’t tell if you don’t .
This endearing site professes to sell anything book-related, and they really mean it. There are books to buy on the site, but there is also artwork that has been made out of old books, accessories and clothes inspired by books, and a general outpouring of love for beautiful bookishness all round.
Do you have a story to tell? Authors (both established and new) pitch their book ideas onto the site. If you, the reader, like what you see, you can pledge your support and help fund the book’s completion. By pledging your support you will receive privileged access to the author’s ‘shed’, where you will get to read draft chapters, join in plot discussions and more. More than anything, Unbound allows the reader to directly influence what is being published. Find and fund book projects from authors such as Raymond Briggs and Stuart Ashen.
A brilliant site if you are interested in old books. Launched in 1996, AbeBooks is an online marketplace where you can buy new, used, rare and out-of-print books, as well as cheap textbooks. They will connect you with thousands of professional booksellers around the world and there are millions of books on the site. Type in the most random book you can think of; it will be there.
Persephone Books reprint neglected classics by twentieth century writers, mostly by women. Their website is a good reflection of the thoughtful nature of what they do: attractive and intellectual publishing, with a strong undercurrent of girl power. There are currently 117 titles already published; each has a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper or Elaine Showalter. Look out for the likes of Diana Athill and A.S.Byatt lending their heavyweight support to this interesting enterprise.
The Booktrust is an independent UK charity with one main aim: to get people of all ages and cultures reading. Their website is filled with information about the various projects and campaigns devised by the Booktrust to spread access to the written word. Find advice and guidance on all sorts of reading concerns, such as disability reading and reading to your kids at bedtime.