ShelfLuv launched over two years ago and I’m sad to say the time has come to shut the service down. It was a very simple idea, to be a better way to search for books. I was a very voracious reader then and wanted to create a very nice interface to find and show off the books I’ve read. A little later (like 6 months), I revamped the site and made it so you could not only create a page you could share of your books but could view a feed of people’s reading activities.
It had some great coverage early on. The site looked nice. I was pretty proud of it from a design perspective, but there were many problems with it. There was no real traction or usage. It was probably up for longer than it needed to be, mostly because I was too lazy to shut it down. It was easier to just do nothing.
However not all is lost. I learned some great things from it.
- Total Registered Users: 3,290
- Bookshelves Created: 712
- Books Added to Shelves: 30,046
- Books Searched: 1,209,627
- Comments Created: 1,345
- Users Followed: 1,573
We used Facebook registration to simplify the onboarding. That probably was both good and bad. Some people do not like to use their Facebook account to sign up for services.
Users added about 10 books to their shelves on average. In reality it was a bit more skewed. I myself had over 300 books added. Some users had even more than that. Basically it was one of those 80/20 rules. Most users signed up and did very little while others got it and got into it.
One of the right things I did was letting people search without having to have an account. As you can see, people did search for books. People weren’t required to login or register to immediately use the beautiful infinite scroll instant search. Also, because we made it “instant”, it would do the searches as you typed, thus lowering the barrier to searching even more.
So what went wrong? If I had to pick one thing it would be we moved too slowly. It took a long time between just having instant search and launching the profile features and feed. We didn’t iterate fast enough. There were many reasons for that. For one I didn’t have much in terms of tech. Although I did all the front end coding and design, I didn’t have a full-stack developer on my team. Out-sourcing that took time and money.
The other thing that was obvious in hindsight was that people just don’t consume books as much or as fast. Not as many people consume books compared to people who post photos for example. The turn around time to consume “content” and produce a piece of content is just long. If I had come up with ways for people to engage with the site other than adding books and commenting, people might have interacted more.
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