This SaaS idea has to do with books + reading + connecting people. I've had this idea for a while now. I don't think it's a good idea. The version I can imagine is a direct to consumer (B2C) app+community. It would be a nice-to-have product. Not an utility, not an immediate pain killer. For those reasons and for my lack of marketing/personal brand building chops (which I think this idea would require to attract enough customers for meaningful revenue), I don't think it's a good idea. It would probably fail.

Nevertheless I want to do the exercise of writing it all out, the vision, the dream, the fantasy. (partly inspired by this post - Amy's 7 hardass rules for life and rule #3)

Dream your big dreams, but recognize that you’re unlikely to reach them for years and set them aside so they don’t distract you from the reality of today.

So here it goes!

The product/app

I write notes when I read books. Depending on the book, sometimes I write pages, sometimes just 1-2 paragraphs. I've done this for a long time. My notes are not in one place though - some are on my personal blog, some are on external sites, some are in my Evernotes and other newer note-taking apps. Most of them are handwritten notes in notebooks. In addition to notes, I also have tracking spreadsheets with book title, when I read it, and what I thought about it. I have this in Goodreads and Google Sheets and Notion.

I don't think I am the only one. I know other people also take notes and track books they read. So I can imagine building a single place to store of all this reading related info. (No I don't want to build a "better goodreads" or take on Amazon). I'm imagining a simple CRUD app, a glorified spreadsheet. Then optionally adding note-taking / uploading pics of handwritten note, etc. I can imagine many features, but keeping it super simple at first would be the way to go. And see if at least I could use it and enjoy using it.

That much sounds practical. Here's where the fantasy part comes in. I would keep this up and running forever. For the rest of my life at least. (I know Garry is running Posthaven blog like this and that idea has always appealed to me). If I read even 10 books a year in the next 50 years I'd have 500 books logged. I can imagine passing this on to my family (kids, grandkids?!). I would love to have something like this from my grandparent (age 95) who I know has been reading all of his life. This would not only be about me. I would enable my customers to have this experience of creating a log of their life in books and passing on a legacy to their family. So yeah.

This app isn't meant to be used as a vanity metric. It would have no social features. It would not encourage bragging about number of books read or rank members or have leader-boards, nothing like that. It would be about you and your life, it would be about depth of reading (connecting with others). It would be like your digital bookshelf, clicking on each book would display your notes and thoughts. Meant for yourself, as a way to follow your own journey and see what you thought and how you grew and learned along the way from books you read at a given time in your life. It is delightful to look at something I wrote or thought 2 years ago and think "wow what an idiot I was for thinking that". This reaction is good because that thought implies that I've grown in that time. Also if you reread a book, it would be interesting to compare your notes from the previous time and look for different takeaways.

The community

As far as the community part, it's another idea I've had for a long time (many years) I'll call Inverse bookclub. I often checkout books from the library and many times they are already in-use and I have to put a hold on it. I wonder who is this person reading the same book as me around the same time? Why did they decide to read this book? Why now? How did they come across it? What did they think of it? Did they recommend it to a friend? Did they get other book recommendations from reading that book?

So many questions, which I could ask, if I was in a community of book lovers. I would device some algorithm to match up people based having read the same book in the span of a couple months, to meet and discuss. So unlike an actual bookclub, where a group of friends get together first, follow some democratic process of book selection, then they simultaneously read the same book at the same speed and then meet to discuss. This works, I've been a couple bookclubs with friends that have lasted at least several months. Eventually it fizzles out though. It's hard to find books that match everyone's current taste and mood.

Hence the "inverse" part. We would turn this process on it's head. Read what you want, when you want. And if you like, find people who happen to have read the same thing to connect with and discuss.

I don't yet I have any community building chops. I am intimidated but also secretly intrigued by this skill. (Unlike personal branding and what not) Community building is something I can see myself learning and getting good at.

I can go on about how I'd get customers, how many would I need, what I think I could charge. But I'll it here for now.


P.S. I realize the above makes me sound like a big nerd. I'm okay with that :)