There are community sites for music and film fans, but books seem to be a topic that exists in the non-virtual world. There is a hanful of sites for people who read, such as BookCrossing, GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing, but recently created Reading Trails allows the users to explore the world of literature in a new and innovative way. The site was launched in the end of November 2008 but it already has almost a 1000 users, and a growing database of book descriptions. It was founded by Nick Romero and Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody wit the help of Utopian.Net Labs.
<p><a href="http://www.readingtrails.com" rel="nofollow">Reading Trails</a> is a community site for book lovers, writers and publishers. The main idea is to create "trails" that can connect books - their topics can be either based on the genre, reader's impression, topic, or whatever the users will come up. Each registered user can create his or her own trail, with descriptions of the books, or just titles. Users explore each others' trails, descriptions, share information and find friends with similar tastes. This site may also give a boost book sales, since most book descriptions are linked with Amazon, or Abebooks sites.</p>
<p>The adventure begins, as usual, with registering and creating a users profile with basic information, in this case we don't get the usual "relationship status" or "orientation" boxes, just "occupation", "favorite authors" and "quotes". Then we can create a trail of books, title it ("<a href="http://www.readingtrails.com/trail_browse.php?id=1231014072" rel="nofollow">overrated</a>", "favorite", "<a href="http://www.readingtrails.com/trail_browse.php?id=1231274651" rel="nofollow">books to read before you die</a>") write a description, add tags, and start adding books through the author and title browser. The database of books is quite big, but if the user doesn't find what he's looking for, he can use the "add a book manually" option. As some books may appear in many trails, the trails create intersection, which allows the users to jump from one trail to another and explore even more book titles. There's also the option of adding friends to the list and viewing their profiles, sending messages, adding favorite books to one's profile (tagged as "favorite", "read", "reading" or "planning to read") Of course, users get a widget showing a chosen book trail, to post anywhere they like.</p>
<p>The visual side of the service looks a bit old fashioned and serious, when compared with the usual flashy and crowded-looking networking sites. The logo consists of a tree with a bird on it, which also doesn't look like something designed by a professional logo designer. The colors are rather pale, generally, there is nothing moving, shining and jumping at the visitor to grab his attention. This design might be unwelcoming for young internet viewers, used to <a href="http://www.myspace.com" rel="nofollow">MySpace</a> look, but I think that it corresponds well with the topic and aim of this site - it's supposed to make people discuss and share books, and not stay on the site and get sucked in by widgets and applications. After all, if all Reading Trails users spend all of their time on the site, they would not have much to share.</p>
<p>Nowadays, each way to popularize books is necessary, and this site is designed and executed in such a way, that it might really appeal to <a href="http://www.thinkgeek.com/images/products/additional/large/bacteria-bookworm.jpg" rel="nofollow">bookworms</a>, make them share their opinions and find new friends.</p>