Building Shepherd - 3,799 pages + preview updates to the bookshelf and other pages.



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Shepherd is reimagining book discovery online. So less like buying toothpaste and more a magical fun experience that readers deserve.

Summary: April 4th to April 15th 2022
3,799 published book lists!
As of today, we have published 3,799 book recommendation lists and have ~100 to be published on Monday. Plus…
  • 102 lists are being reviewed and tweaked by authors.
  • 376 lists are pending review/editing by our editor.
  • 36 are waiting on a missing piece of info from an author.
  • 25 are soon going to be loading into our publishing system.
  • And, 3 lists are lost as the author never responded back to us.
These lists power the new features we added in Jan/Feb (bookshelves) and the big features we are currently working on (genre pages and more). My goal is to create a virtuous circle where readers are finding amazing books in new and unique ways, while authors are meeting the readers who would be most interested in their book.
So, how have bookshelves been doing?
1,516 published bookshelf pages
As of today, we have published 1,516 bookshelf pages on a variety of topics. There are 1,294 pending topics that have at least 5 books assigned to them that I need to review and decide if they would make a good topic page. I’ve slowly been working through these and I am hoping to catch up soon.
Marton (the awesome developer I work with) just gave me some tools to clean topics up on mass instead of one by one, and I’ve been working hard to improve the system. And, over the next 60 days, we have some further improvements coming that will improve the accuracy of what we detect for books (especially for fiction).
Slowly but surely we are getting there :)
Books API contract signed!
We signed a contract with a book API provider yesterday (expensive). This will allow us to pull in data about books and most importantly pull in book genres (like history, science fiction, biography, cyberpunk, etc…). With this data, we are going to build genre pages, genre filters, and a bunch of other cool stuff for readers. This is something I’ve always wanted to have, as I want to be able to go to a genre page like science fiction and filter it to show me only books about cyborgs or AI. Or, to go to a page about World War 1 and filter it to show me only historical fiction.
This will be THE big project for 2022 and take up most of our resources for the year.
Working on some UI/UX improvements...
The designer and I have been working to improve the UI/UX of the bookshelf page and the book recommendation lists.
For the bookshelf page, we are working on a new card to show off the author who made the recommendation as readers really like that. I shared a mobile version of this a month ago and we are slowly getting to a final version (as we test it with readers).
New card format for book recommendations on bookshelves.
New card format for book recommendations on bookshelves.
For the book recommendation pages, we are working on the new design for the brand new recommendation system we are about to launch. With this new system we can make much more accurate recommendations about what they might want to browse.
Here is the mobile version we are playing with…
New recommendation section we are playing with for the BBL page.
New recommendation section we are playing with for the BBL page.
What else is going on?
We’ve been in Dresden and Prague the last few weeks to check them out. I think we have all hit a big wall as this has been an intense trip combined with the miscarriage, work intensity, travel, etc…
My body and mind need rest and after one more stop, we are heading to rural Croatia for a month to do nothing and relax. I need it.
I think the below picture illustrates where we are all at emotionally and mentally, my son needed some time, and I feel similar :)
Enjoy your weekend, and I hope you are able to find your version of a spiderman costume, jacket, and headphones to relax within.
My son cracks me up :)
My son cracks me up :)
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Ben Fox

Follow along as I build the Shepherd book discovery platform (updates every 2 weeks).

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