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Building Shepherd - Relating Book Lists & Other Updates

It has been a fantastic two weeks! 143 authors have now committed to writing a best book list for Shepherd’s launch (or have already turned one in).

Jan 25th - Feb 5th.
Progress on the website?
We finished the admin interface for the website! The admin interface is what I use to create the best book lists, add books, add authors, and manage the data. Here is a quick screenshot of me editing Jay Geller’s submission on “The Best Books On Nazi Germany And The Holocaust”.
Admin Interface For Shepherd
Admin Interface For Shepherd
What's next?
Today we started building the frontend of the website. This is a big chunk of work. We need to create the HTML/CSS from the mockups, connect that design to the backend data, and ensure everything works perfectly. Once we finish this we can launch the website!
What else?
I finished a spec for how we will start to relate book lists to other book lists. This feature will come after we launch and is very important. Why?
  • We want readers to be able to follow their curiosity. Not only to directly related topics but also to distantly related topics. I feel this is key in trying to make this experience feel like you are browsing the best bookstore in the world. I want it to feel like the little notes that the employees at my local bookstore leave to highlight their favorite books.
  • We want authors to get more exposure and by connecting their book list to similar book lists it will help readers meet the author and their book. The more topics we have the stronger this effect.
For example, if a reader is browsing a book list called “The Best Books To Read If You Are Visiting Japan” we also want to suggest book lists like “The Best Books For Learning Japanese” and “The Best Books On Japanese Culture”. And, we also want to suggest more distantly related booklists such as “The Best Travel Books In Asia” or “The Best Books On Shinto”.
Eventually, we will also recommend book topics that will challenge readers. Why is this important? We live in a time where social-media algorithms serve us only what reinforces our world view. I want Shepherd to play a role in combating that. I believe a book is one of the best ways to help someone see the world through different eyes. And, we need a lot more of that right now.
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Ben Fox

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