Litsy App Brings Bookish Conversations to Life Online
Litsy is a social community app that some have described as the “Instagram” of the book world. The goal of the iOS app is to fuel book-related conversations through visual, 300-character posts which users tag to a specific book. Litsy users can follow their favorite authors, share book quotes, and more easily discover their next read. Litsy co-founder Todd Lawton explains that the purpose of the app is to make the conversation around books as fun and enjoyable as the books themselves. In the following interview Lawton explains how Litsy got off the ground and how publishers can join this vibrant online reading community.
Who are you?
Litsy is an offshoot of Out of Print, a literary merchandise company started in 2010. Not many things match the joy of connecting with someone over a book. We create products that evoke conversation and bring people together around books. In our six years in business, we can proudly say there are 2,000,000 Out of Print products promoting the lifestyle and magic of reading around the world.
Litsy is a continuation of the Out of Print mission. It’s a social community app where readers share their book moments. Conversations are spontaneous and short-form (like Twitter), visual (like Instagram), and all about books (each posts requires a book to be tagged). In many ways, Litsy is a reading companion -- ensuring bookish conversations happen even when no one is around.
What problem are you solving?
Talking about books online is “stuck on the shelf.” It’s not as fun as it should be, conversations are scattered and get lost in the noise, and there’s limited social reward. Talking about books should be as enjoyable as reading them. Litsy exists to reward readers socially, and book discovery on Litsy is a natural byproduct.
We’re not focused on reviews. Conversations are not long-form. Litsy is about sharing all book moments. It’s spontaneous. We limit the posts to 300 characters to invite more discussion and comments. Pictures, stickers, emojis, and other visual edits enhance posts and make them fun and memorable. We make reading social and connect readers with friends, influencers, and authors.
Publishers too can join conversations on Litsy. Publishers have access to inside information that readers want to know. This information is easily syndicated on the app. Publishers can also encourage their authors to create accounts. Authors can support their peers, share what they are reading, or promote their own books and events.
How did you come up with this idea?
Bookstore shelf talkers and the "staff picks" signs with personal recommendations, were a primary inspiration. They are personal, visual, and come from a credible source. We wanted to enhance conversations happening in the physical world with the best technology has to offer -- photos, global connectivity, 24/7 accessibility, book databases, etc.
Litsy is on trend with how conversations are happening digitally. Enthusiasm from publishers, bookstores, and authors, tells us that industry influencers want an alternative for book discovery and marketing. They like Litsy because real people are the recommendation engines, not algorithms or large corporations. It's very much a bottom-up movement.
What are the most important trends in publishing today?
There are three trends that we’re seeing in the industry: 1) Print still matters. Most reading still in print, younger generations prefer print, and bookstores are thriving. 2) People are the best advertisers. 3) Enjoying a book doesn't stop when you finish reading it.
Who is your competition?
People often describe Litsy as "Instagram and Twitter" for books. We have also been compared to Goodreads. It's tremendous to be grouped with these companies so early.
Android and web versions of Litsy are coming very soon. After that, we're looking to offer more “trending” functionality based on community activity, improved notifications, and in-app messaging and invitations.