So, is Litsy worth using instead? Here are my thoughts.
I didn’t know much about Litsy before downloading it, but it is pretty easy to get to grips with.
Essentially, it is a social media network that combines the best features of both Instagram and Goodreads. I signed up using my Facebook account, which is always a handy feature, and dived in.
There are two main ways to navigate the app.
First, you can scroll through your feed to view posts from the various accounts you follow. I don’t know anyone that already uses it, so I began by following the Litsy account, a couple of big book publishers, and a few random people with high ‘litfluence’ (more on that later).
Secondly, you can find discussion topics by searching for specific books, authors or tags.
There are three ways to post on the app, including a ‘blurb’, a ‘quote’ or a ‘review’. Each one has a 300-character limit and the option to add an image.
A blurb can be something like an image caption or a short comment. The other two options are pretty self-explanatory.
Building a community
As well as posting content, users can also create their own ‘to-read’ lists and build a ‘litfluence’ score. The latter is influenced by how many books or pages you have read or how many likes you’ve gotten. This gamification element is an added bonus – it adds to the satisfaction of finishing a book and gives users an incentive to keep using the app.
Another aspect of Litsy that particularly stands out is its community focus.
Unlike other social networks where conversation can be random or irrelevant to other users, everything on Litsy is always connected back to the core topic of books, ensuring that the community is built on real and enthusiastic interest.
There is the chance that it will become very ‘fandom’-orientated, with a lot of posts about particularly popular series or characters.
However, this is not necessarily a negative, as if you are not interested in the subject, it doesn’t have to affect your own experience – you can simply follow more relevant accounts.
Another aspect of Litsy that I like is its concise and highly visual nature.
If you don’t want to post reviews, you can still be active on the app by posting short comments or images. Its character limit also prevents people from writing rambling reviews. Instead of the standard star rating system, it has a four category options of Pick, So-So, Pan or Bail.
While this might frustrate a lot of people, I actually find it quite useful.
So many online reviews are wishy-washy or give a nonchalant three stars, whereas this forces you to come to a concrete conclusion about a book and decide whether or not you’d recommend it to a friend. The option to flag up spoilers is also very clever, and prevents anyone from unwittingly reading reviews they don’t want to.
Meanwhile, the Instagram-style photo editing feature encourages creativity and real-time posting. I came across a lot of people simply sharing what or where they were reading. Again, this builds on the community aspect, with people providing context to simply share in the enjoyment of the reading experience.
Similar to Instagram or Twitter, the tag feature aids discovery. If you are interested in a particular genre, such as crime fiction, searching this tag will immediately provide you with inspiration or ideas about what to read next.
If you’re someone who finds it difficult to narrow down books to read, this feature is definitely helpful, as it’s very easy to spot popular tags or find Litsy’s ‘most-stacked’ titles.
While some people might not appreciate its short character limit or over-arching focus on imagery, I think this nicely complements the ‘in-the-moment’ mobile experience.
My lasting impression is also that it’s a very positive app. Unlike Goodreads, there are few scathing or rambling reviews, and in contrast to Instagram, you’ll find no self-obsessed selfies. It is what it says on the tin – a platform to celebrate and indulge in a love of books.
Like most communities, its success will depend on whether it generates enough interest and activity to be sustained. So if you’re a book worm, it’s worth giving it a whirl.