Saturday, July 20, 2013

Introducing Hunt to Read Release 2!


Here at Hunt to Read, we're always working on ways to make our service bigger and better for users, both by enhancing the reader "hunt" experience, and by providing more services to authors and publishers who have chosen to list books on our site.

Sometimes, that means that we have to go into "mad scientist" mode. While I do apologize for the "radio silence" over the past week or so, it's not like we were sitting around, sipping cream sodas and watching Law & Order reruns all day.

No, we were able to fit in just a couple of improvements to the site during that period of time.

And, pardon my candor, but they are AWESOME.

We're proud to formally introduce Hunt to Read: Release 2!

My co-founder, Rick Tucker, and his tech team deserve a huge hand for implementing these big changes as quickly as possible, and really doing so in a way that is functional, intuitive, and really improves the site.

So What's New?

This might take a while. We're just now starting to get into some of the "cool new features to attract readers" (which will in turn help out our authors and publishers) that I've been promising for quite some time. Here is a list of the improvements made in this release, starting with one of our coolest innovations yet:

The Points System

If you log in and look at the black menu bar at the top of the screen, you'll see a new entry in the menu: "HTR Points." Anyone, including readers, authors, and publishers, may accumulate these points. Users get points for rating covers, blurbs, and book presentation, as well as making insightful comments that can continue to earn points depending on the number of up votes they get.

For now, you can earn a limited set of privileges with points, including the ability to upvote and downvote comments (for which you can receive more points), as mentioned above. In the future, we're going to offer things like greater customization for user pages, book discounts, free books (!) and even ways to make some cash if you accumulate enough points (!!).

While many of these features will find their way into Release 3, you can start accumulating points now, knowing that not only will their value increase in the future, but they can serve as an indicator of investment in the site and authority as a user--after all, the more points one has, the more they've used the site.

If you want to read about the program in greater detail, here's a link to our Points Information Page.

This is a very cool program that we're extremely excited about--like I said above, we already have a number of ideas for points in the future, but if you have any suggestions on ways that you'd like to see points used, or things for which points could be redeemed in the future, please don't hesitate to contact us at contact@hunttoread.com.

Improved Hunt Interface

This was more than a project for Rick; he was near-pathological with regard to integrating the user feedback we received about the Hunt with his own fantastic ideas. The result is a number of Hunt improvements, including:

-A Tracked Hunt: No more annoying repeats within the same Hunt! Each book appears once, then appears in the:

-Cool new header bar that keeps a list of the books you have hunted, in graphical format. When Rick showed off this function, my jaw dropped before I started laughing like a schoolchild with glee. Now you can see where you've been in the Hunt, scroll through, and select a book that you may have seen a dozen books back with ease. It really spruces up the site and improves the Hunt experience--I love it!

-The ability to bookmark favorite books: If a reader finds a book that they like, but don't feel like rating it or clicking through to a retailer at the moment, they can add it to the list of books in "My Bookmarks", available under the "User Name" tab in the black menu bar, for easy access no matter what device you use.

-Reshuffle feature once you reach the end of the Hunt: When you have gone through all of the books given the filter options you have implemented, you're offered the option of reshuffling the Hunt and going through it again, browsing that Hunt's history through the header bar of covers, or picking a new filter and starting a new Hunt.

User Account Pages

We have increased the functionality of our user account pages. You now can upload a custom picture, include a URL to link to your own site, write more about yourself, and see how many points a user has earned. Additionally, for users who have listed books on the site, we have provided a convenient table in the user profile with links to the other books listed by that user, so as to allow readers who like a user's work to discover more of it.

Like I said, we want to do much more with these in the future, but this is a great second step in user page functionality.

Adult Filter


This is probably going to be our most controversial change, one for which we even had to update our Terms of Service. First of all, I want to say that we here at Hunt to Read remain stridently committed to individuals' freedom of expression.

We are also proud to host a sizeable (and growing) number of erotica titles on our site. However, we understand that having these titles appear as a default part of the Hunt may adversely affect younger readers, folks at work, and even Erotica authors and publishers themselves, who may receive knee-jerk, judgmental feedback based on preexisting biases as opposed to the merits of a book's display for that genre.

Because of all of this, we have implemented an Adult Filter as a default on the site. There are two ways to get around this:

1) Simply set the genre filter to Hunt specifically for "Erotica." Because the reader makes the choice to do so, we assume the reader is in a place where they feel comfortable perusing those books, where they will take the time to offer honest feedback.
OR

2) You may disable the Adult Filter by clicking on your user name in the black menu bar at the top of the page, clicking on "My Account", and then click the button for "Off" next to "Adult Filter." This will allow Erotica books to display on the home page, as well as in the default Hunt.

Tech Updates

Additionally, we made a lot of technical updates that should improve the experience for all users. These include:

-Optimized the menu bar for larger displays

-Updated FAQs for Readers/Writers with info about Points system

-Books that are clicked through in the Hunt now open in a different tab, preserving your Hunt history

-Site architecture has been improved to load books faster

-Paginated a number of features for heavy users so that user pages load faster.

-Made site navigation easier and more intuitive

Marketing

With these improvements, we're planning on expanding our marketing efforts to include highly-targeted groups of readers! This addition to our strategy should start showing up in your analytics in the coming weeks.


We hope that you agree that all of our hard work over the past week-plus has been worth it. If you have any questions or comments, as always you can contact the Hunt to Read team quickly and easily at contact@hunttoread.com.

Also, thank you so much for your continued support; we truly could not do this without you. Rick and I and the rest of the team have a great vision for not only what Hunt to Read has become, but what it can be in the future. Thank you for your continued feedback as we strive to make HTR the absolute best it can be.

Thanks again, and Happy Hunting!

-D.J.
D.J. Gelner is the co-founder and CEO of Hunt to Read. Email him directly at djgelner@hunttoread.com.

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