in general, reading tools

Sticky is good, brimming is better

In my last post on the topic, I said that when I reached into my memory for alternatives to Goodreads, I remembered only StoryGraph and Literal.

This is good. Whatever is sticky is what we use in the end.

Recently, it went a little further. Lately, I’ve become a fan of a lot of alternatives to books. 13 out of the 18 books I “read” this past year were audiobooks. Another 3 were actually Harry Potter fan fiction web novellas from a series called Ever Upward. It’s worth a read.

There’s another web novel which I’m reading right now, on and off, which I have no hopes of finishing soon. It’s called Worm and it’s three times the size of War and Peace, which took me well over 2 years to read.

But the significant thing is that both the fan fiction and the web novel are online entities that have no ISBN, publishing house, or even profit motive. They are purely labors of love, freely given to the world, published online in a format that may outlast humanity or may disappear tomorrow.

Which means there’s no serious way to track the fact that I’m reading them other than putting them in my notes or on my blog. Goodreads doesn’t acknowledge them. Neither does Literal.

But StoryGraph does.

A few months ago, I wanted to record that I’m reading Worm. None of the services – Goodreads or it’s alternatives seemed to have Worm as a “book”. But StoryGraph did. I added it. But I’ve not really used it to track my progress. Mostly lack thereof.

A few days ago, I felt like adding my progress on the Ever Upward series to the reading services. Sure enough, StoryGraph is the only one that has it, with each numbered novella a separate entity. I added it and quickly marked the first three novellas as “read”, adding them to my 2023 Reading list.

I like Literal. It’s got a nice interface, a very good community. They have this cool feature where you can create Clubs based on any random criteria and people can join them and add recommended books as well as posts to those Clubs. I’m an active member of a club called “Complex Females” and the creator of a club called “Short books“. But like most other non-Goodreads platforms, Literal suffers from a lack of records. Books are missing or not available in the format I’m reading them in. To fight this, Literal created a program called Librarians where you can contribute information about missing books and editions. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a way in Literal to track non-ISBN books.

StoryGraph doesn’t have a program like this per se. But any member can import a ISBN based book. What they also have is a feature that says that if you don’t have an ISBN, you can manually add a book and plug in information about the work. This is probably what some kind strangers used to add Worm and Ever Upward to the platform. I’ve found this to be a rather unique option that’s not present anywhere else. In general, if you want to track something you’re reading on the web, your main options are Read Later tools like Instapaper or Omnivore. I do not want StoryGraph to track every article or LongRead out there, but the idea of tracking web novellas is unique and very satisfying.

I want to give my money to StoryGraph. It’s $50 a year for the annual plan (or $5 a month for the monthly plan). That seems like a reasonable way to support the platform. Literal on the other hand, has a “Patron” system where you can contribute $5/$10/$20 a month to help keep the lights on and improve the platform. Seems reasonable too.

Literal has a social aspect that StoryGraph lacks. StoryGraph has Stats. Who doesn’t like stats?

Ideally, I’d like these platforms to merge so I can have exceptional stats as well as a social aspect that’s entirely around book clubs. But that’s just wishful thinking.

What do you think dear reader? Where should my money go?

Oh, and about the title of the post. I am leaning towards StoryGraph because it’s brimming with more than just ISBN based books. It’s helping me track web novellas which I would have no way of tracking through a “reading platform” otherwise.

What do you think?


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