Why You Need An App To Tell You If You’ve Read A Particular Book

mBA01We’re in the market for a mobile app for book lovers to find and rate books. These could be books written by a person’s favorite author or recommended by someone in their social graph. We’ve given the working name myBookAlert for this app and have started discussing its specs with a few mobile app development vendors. When we come to the point where we tell these vendors that we want the app to alert us to books that we’ve already read, we invariably notice raised eyebrows. “Why do you want an app to tell you what you know anyway?” is their common reaction, whether articulated in so many words or not.

This is a perfectly natural reaction from occasional book readers for whom each book they read is an experience that they’re unlikely to forget.

However, the situation is quite different for voracious book readers. Take the case of one such middle-aged reader, who has been reading one or two books per week for around 30 years (if this sounds a bit autobiographical, you wouldn’t be wrong!). During this period, they’ve have read around 1-2 x 52 x 30 = 1500 – 3000 books. After reading so many books over such a long period, anyone would find it virtually impossible to remember books by their titles. Nor is it so easy for them to recall that they’ve read a particular book by reading the blurb on the back cover or even after browsing past the first few pages. Of course, as I’d pointed out in this blog post, memory loss begins at different ages for different people, so some people have better memory and might not face this problem. However, most others who haven’t been so lucky with their mental retention power won’t be able to remember whether they’ve read a certain book or not a few years later.

Why is this a problem? Such people tend to buy the same title more than once. For example, I’ve bought at least 10 books twice and a couple of them even three times. After they read beyond the first few pages, it all inevitably comes back to them. When that happens, they tend to chuck the book, so it’s a lot of money down the drain. The problem is exacerbated by Amazon and other leading book sellers who have recently started promoting reprints of fairly old books with somewhat misleading language – “prebook for guaranteed availability when this book launches on so-and-so-future-date” – that lulls you into believing that these are all new books.

It’s to avoid such waste of time and money that voracious readers need help to warn them that they’ve already read a certain book. Which is why we decided to put this feature in our myBookAlert app.

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