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Review: Woodpie – A Paper-Book Sharing Site

Photo Credit: Andrew Subiela on Flickr

As a reader one of my biggest pain points has always been getting more books. While growing up my biggest challenge was my limited pocket money; my budget still is my biggest challenge.

Libraries helped solve this to some extent through the years but I’ve exhausted a few and there aren’t many left. Ebooks have also helped in price and availability but nothing beats paper books. I belong to book communities like Goodreads to make more reader friends but exchanging books across countries is unfeasible. Well, you get the gist of the problem, don’t you? 😀

Then a while back I heard of Woodpie – a site that encourages the exchange of paper books. This I had to check out.

Woodpie’s main page says that it helps you explore what’s trending, what your friends are reading, find rare books you’re looking for and even make real friends.

Here’s what you get when you login. I’ve filled in a bit of my profile, added some books and a review to see how the site works.

So, How does it work?

As a new user after setting up your profile, the first thing to do would be to add books to your shelf. When adding books you get two options – shelf and wishlist. In both cases you can choose who your book is visible to by adding circles and specific friends names. The shelf option also allows you to mark the book as read, reading or will read.
Circles here work just like on Google+. You categorise your friends into circles that you can then use to share relevant books.

Challenges –

I couldn’t find an invite friend option, and that would have been helpful to reach out to my friends on G+, Facebook and Twitter.
I would have loved an import G+ circles option, since it’s circles here too.

Plus –

Choosing circles and friends gives me privacy control over each book and I like that. No everyone needs to know what books I have and read. 😀

Library

Your library (separate from shelf) is a collection of books your friends have shared with you and all the books members have shared publicly. Basically these are the books that are accessible to you.

If it’s a book you want, you can request it from the main library page. Clicking on the request button gives you a list of people who own the book and options in the mode of exchange.

Clicking on the book takes you to a page with more details on the book, user ratings, reviews and a list of people who have the book. If its a book from your shelf you’ll also see a list of people who want the book and offer it to them with a click of a button.

Challenges –

The book details page does not have a request book button. To request a book you have to come back to the main library page.

Requests

We saw one way to request for books above but you can also request for books directly from on your wishlist. Aside from that there is also a page for all requests, where both sent and received requests can be tracked.

Matches

This is a interesting feature to me as it compares my shelf and wishlist against that of my friends and public and gives me a list of books I can share or borrow. Simply put I can see who owns books on my wishlist and request for them easily. I can also find people to pass a book onto after I’ve read it.

Plus –

It’s a great way to make new friends, share books, and save paper and save money.

Offers

The offers section works just like requests. You can track all your sent and received offers. You can also recall/cancel an offer.

Trends

This section gives you a snapshot of the most active books and members.

My Thoughts –

‘ + + + ‘

On the whole I like the idea and site. I have a lot of books on my bookshelf I’d like to share and Woodpie lets me do just that with relative ease. It also helps me find books I want to read without having to buy them. And all of this helps me make actual new friends and widen my reader circle. This is good stuff.

‘ – – – ‘

That said, the site still has a long way to go. There isn’t a large base of members yet, and that means that there isn’t a large variety of books to choose from. The probability of finding books from your wishlist on people’s shelves is currently quite small. I couldn’t find anyone to borrow Chanakya’s Chant from and that’s a fairly famous book.
The various social networks used by readers are not integrated into the site. I’d like to see options to invite friends, announce book requests & offers and import book lists. Adding books would be easier if I could import a book list from Goodreads, rather than add one book at a time.

Woodpie is a great idea and if there are enough people using it, there’d be a lot of happy readers. I’m going to be watching the site to see how things go.

One question though is picking at me – In the age of ebooks, where we are seeing libraries disappear, can a paper book exchange program work?
Are you on Woodpie? What do you think of it?

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