Dedicated book reviewers sit down after they’ve read a book and compose an honest (hopefully!) review which they then plonk onto their reviewing blog site and, possibly or probably, on Amazon. The content of said review, generally, will be mostly about how much the reviewer liked or disliked the book. Some will be kind, favourable and constructive. Others will not. And the reviews will vary in length from a few sentences to a few paragraphs.
Is there any other way to review a book? There is, says BookDigits. In fact, they declare, it’s a “a smarter way to explore books” and “At BookDigits, we want to change the way you read and help you find your next favorite book. Traditional genres are too broad and vague to be useful, so BookDigits uses themes and special metrics instead.”
Intriguing, isn’t it? To use the site, you have to register and you can create your own profile. This details when you joined, how many books you’ve rated, how many you have to read (imported from Goodreads, but in my case, this doesn’t travel too successfully, as only a third transferred), a reading goal along with an achievement system, what you’re currently reading and a link to your ‘stats’ which lays out the books you’ve read (and total pages!), average page count, reading speed, average book rating, grade breakdowns, top authors, themes and year-by-year breakdown. Pretty comprehensive. Not all essential snippets of information, but fun nonetheless.
There’s also a well laid-out tutorial on how to apply the ratings. This is where we get down to the aforementioned ‘smarter way to explore books’.
So, there’s not a star in sight here. Gone are the good old one to five stars giving you the option to love, really like, like, like okay, hate. We have an F to A+ range (giving you 13 ratings). I’ve often read reviewers express how they wished they could award half a star extra to a rating, so this range will probably suit them. For me personally, it’s just a tad too many. Is there really much difference between B-, B and B+?
Next is a sliding scale for you to set for the Literature to Entertainment ratio. The explanation is this: “Some books are meant to be read as literary works of art, and some are intended to be pure commercial entertainment.” This isn’t designed to rate the book as good or bad, merely to identify where it lies. The purpose, they say, is to help me identify the style of books I enjoy reading. Personally, I don’t find this particularly useful. I read for enjoyment, so every book is going to fall in the entertainment category. A bit simplistic, yes, but there it is. However, other people might find this useful when looking at ratings for a book.
We then have Theme Breakdown: BookDigits deems “Traditional genres such as sci-fi, romance and fantasy are too broad and vague to be useful.” So you’re provided with the ability to choose ten themes per book against which you set a percentage. Again, my simplistic-ness makes me want throw the book into one category. Easy.
This is followed by Addictiveness, set with a sliding scale. I quite like this. If you just can’t tear yourself away from a book, you can swipe that scale right up to 100%. This is a feature of a book that isn’t quite so cut and dried for me, so I like this option to be more precise.
Movie Potential next. Again, selected with a sliding scale. Not sure about this. Another of those areas where for me a book either is or isn’t good material for the widescreen. I don’t think there’s anything in between.
Second to last is Rereadability, set by the sliding scale. Lost on me, I’m afraid. However, I know many people regularly reread books they’ve loved. I’m just not one of them. Too many books and too little time in which to read them; I need to move on quickly! However, if someone deigns to give me Methuselah’s lifespan, I can think of a handful of books that I would reread, so in 900 years’ time, I may well find this very useful.
Lastly, there’s a comment box in which you have a maximum of 500 characters to add, as an option, anything else you care to mention about the book, preferably without getting bogged down with the plot. BookDigits wants you to express your real thoughts about the book.
From the total ratings on the site, there’s a listing of recommendations, top 50 best-rated books, top 50 best-rated new releases, top themes and book of the week.
I’ve got to be honest here and say that at the outset I was a little ‘meh’ about BookDigits, but strangely enough, not only do I find myself automatically going to the site to rate a book I’ve just read, but having explored it a little more in depth for this post, I find it quite an innovative way to review a book. It’s not perfect, but it’s different and a bit of fun.
It doesn’t happen often to me, in fact quite rarely, but once or twice I’ve really, really struggled to find anything to say about a book, good or bad. (Believe it or not, I can be dumbstruck.) On those occasions, I’ve taken way, way too long on a review. I call those reviews, slo-mo reviews, as each word spells out laboriously on screen as I write. I must repeat: it’s very rare. I think BookDigits would suit such occasions, since all you have to do is slide a few sliders and not bother about too many or any words.
However, I don’t want to suggest that it’s merely a device for books which render you speechless. In fact, it I think it could encourage more people to rate a book. I know many people who just don’t feel inclined to write one or two paragraphs about their views on a book, but who would be more than happy to rate it; on many review sites, Amazon most prominently, a rating cannot be given without a minimum of a couple of words.
Worth a look? Yes, for a fresh approach to book reviewing.