Quillp is a social network startup based in Germany which provides book recommendations for other readers based on similar tastes, as well as allowing budding authors to upload their own manuscripts for others to rate, review, and comment on.
It has features in common with BookArmy and BookRabbit, as well as peer review sites for unpublished authors like Authonomy and YouWriteOn, so how does it compare?
On first impressions, Quillp looks pretty good, nice clean design and well laid out, with clear navigation options. The registration process has been kept simple, which is a good idea when you’re looking to get as many users in as possible.
After this you are asked to rate a series of books to determine your tastes so that the site can have some information on which to base your recommendations. Quillp gives you 30 books to either rate out of five, or say you haven’t read it, or that you aren’t interested.
It’s a nice quick, user-friendly process despite the number of books to rate, and book lovers will probably enjoy this sort of thing anyway. I know I did:
From this information, Quillp then shows you other users who gave positive ratings for the same books you did, as well as a list of your ‘book-alikes’, ordered by how similar your literary tastes are.
Clicking on user profiles gives you any information they have added about themselves, short stories they may have uploaded, as well as the ability to view and rate their ‘library’ of books.
To get the best out of sites like this, you need to add the books you have read to your profile which, since many book lovers will have hundreds, can be a slow process. BookRabbit does this by uploading a photo of your bookshelf to the site and allowing you to tag the spines / covers, and this looks great once you have done it, but takes a bit of time.
On BookArmy, you need to search for titles individually which is a frustrating process, as the site search function can be slow at times. Quillp has managed to make this easier than both though, as you can add and rate any book you see with two clicks, and quickly build up your library.
The pages for each book are an excellent resource too, with plenty of useful information about both book and author. The average review score is shown, as well as brief reviews that other users of the site have written.
The right hand side of the page shows a list of users who have this book and have similar tastes to you, as well as people who have rated it highly, giving you plenty of scope to connect with other readers and share recommendations.
There is even a section showing videos related to the book pulled together from YouTube, which are sometimes be clips from films made of books, or interviews with authors, such as these videos on the page for one of Hunter S Thompson’s books. A nice touch:
Another appealing feature is the ‘similarity graph’, which appears on every book’s page, and is a useful discovery tool. It has the book you are currently viewing at the centre, with related books branching out from this.
Not only does it look pretty, but also provides some good recommendations, including other books by the same author, and those on related subjects, or authors with similar styles and themes. For instance, running the graph from ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ will produce recommendations for books by Tom Wolfle, Jack Kerouac, and Ken Kesey.
Clicking on the book covers will take you to the page for that title,
with the option to add to your library or click to buy it on Amazon.
The tool doesn’t work so well for every book. For example, the graph for ‘A Handful of Dust’ only links to other books by Evelyn Waugh, instead of recommending related authors.
There are a few niggles when using the site though. The search option certainly beats that offered by BookArmy for the speed with which it returned results, but it could do with some refinement. The site works in both English and German and being a German startup means that many of the books added so far are in German.
This means that a search for a book or author will often return results in German, so the ability to limit search to either language would be a useful feature. Being able to set search parameters or else filter results by categories such as genre or user rating would make it more useful and help people narrow down search results.
I also came across a couple of bugs that need to be sorted out before the site comes out of beta. Searching for books or authors from the library page caused the website to stick at this page, without ever producing results, meaning I had to close my browser window to get out of it:
These issues aside, I was impressed by Quillp overall, the user experience offered by the site is impressive, it provides some good recommendations, which should get better as you get more involved with the site and add more books to your profile.
I didn’t notice any advertising on the site, so I assume that it plans to make money by directing users to purchase titles on Amazon. There is a fairly prominent link to buy on each book on the site, but perhaps more could be done to promote this, by displaying prices, special offers, or more prominent links to buy.
Quillp was initially launched in August in a private beta, and plans to open up fully to the public at the end of this month. According to founder Alexander Braun, the userbase on the site is ‘in the high four digits’ so far, and is predominantly German, though he hopes this will change when the site opens up.