Riffle: The New Goodreads?

This article was originally posted on Lit Central O.C., an online literary magazine for Orange Country, CA writers.

Some of you may have heard that Riffle is a great place to find and advertise book deals. If you’ve signed up for their newsletter, they’ll send you a customized daily email with discount book recommendations in your preferred genres. But did you know they’ve launched a Goodreads-style book review and recommendation site as well?

RiffleBooks.com is social media for book readers. Although it has similar functionality to the Amazon subsidiary, Riffle is visually beautiful, with a cleaner, less cluttered interface and increased focus on book covers as compared to Goodreads’ cramped screen filled with text. 

Type in a book title, and up comes a beautiful half-screen image of the cover with the book description and a link to buy to the right hand side. You can rate, review, mark as read, recommend, or add to your TBR list, all from the same screen. 

From a social perspective, following your friends or favorite authors will build a newsfeed similar to Facebook. All your friends’ activities will appear in the feed, where you can comment and start discussions about the books they’ve read. Readers can build book lists, adding notes and comments to explain their recommendations, or write book reviews to share with the community. There’s even a separate area with discussion boards for every major genre and a section just for authors. Currently, all discussions are open to everyone, so you can sort and filter to find just what you want to talk about without joining a special group. 

Although it’s lacking functionality designed specifically for authors — like author pages or the ability to edit the information on the book page — the site nonetheless provides a new opportunity for audience-building. 

  1. First Adopter: the site is so new, there’s still time to be an early adopter, a good thing if you need to take some time getting comfortable with site functionality. Plus, new subscribers will almost certainly see your posts and profile if you’re active when they join.
  2. Book Lists: Readers and authors alike can create book lists to share with their friends and followers. For authors, this means you can create a list that showcases your books. Theoretically, this could generate interest in your work as you attract new followers and they check out the lists on your profile.
  3. Respectful Interaction: Active moderators can and will delete inappropriate content and users from the site. Amongst other common sense community rules, the discussion board FAQ states the following: “You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people.” There are more specific guidelines for authors using the site, but really it amounts to don’t spam the forums, be a reader first and foremost, and don’t comment on the reviews of your books.
  4. Social Media Integration: Riffle directly interacts with Twitter and Facebook (G+ coming soon). Initially, this feature allows you to follow your friends from the other sites, but you can also choose to share updates on the other sites. 
  5. Retail Independence: Unlike Goodreads, which is owned by Amazon, Riffle is independent of the book retailers, which means it’s neutral in the marketplace. This could be a huge benefit, especially for indie authors, because it provides marketing opportunities outside of the Amazon infrastructure.

While I am hopeful that Riffle will become a great new social media site, there are still some drawbacks. 

  1. Limited Audience: I’ve been asking around, and most people still don’t realize that Riffle is a viable alternative to Goodreads. Only a handful of my friends from other sites are already on Riffle, which means I’m struggling to put together a decent newsfeed. 
  2. Limited Activity: The functionality is in place, but until more people join, review, and socialize, activity will be limited. I’ve posted to a few discussions without any response, and I only have 5 followers so far. Then again, I’ve only been on the site for a couple of weeks. 

Despite its limitations, I have a feeling it won’t take long for RiffleBooks.com to catch on. In the meantime, I’m getting comfortable with the site and learning all the ins and outs. With a little luck as an early adopter, I’ll be able to grow an audience for my own books while making new online book friends. Care to join me?