By Lincy Ayala
With millions of books published each year, the book discovery process can be very overwhelming and time-consuming. BookSloth is a personalized book recommendation app for Young Adult readers that makes the book discovery process both fun and easy and ensures readers find books they will love and people to discuss them with.
BookSloth is based in Puerto Rico and was founded in early 2018 by my co-founder Xiomara Figueroa and I out of the frustration we had with existing bookish platforms. As avid readers, our idea began as a passion project aiming to provide the best experience for the reader community created by and for readers. We felt there was a need for an app exclusive for readers to get recommendations and have enjoyable book discussions, but we weren’t sure where to start.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, devastating the island. After the Hurricane, we didn’t have phone service or internet for weeks and we didn’t get electricity back for months. As book lovers, we turned to books as an escape from our reality and saw the importance of having books and sharing with others our love for reading. Hurricane Maria inspired us to create BookSloth out of the necessity we felt to connect with people in such a difficult time. We spoke with other readers about their frustrations with the market leader and how difficult it was to find new books to read and a community to discuss them with. We decided to leave our full-time jobs to create a product that would offer personalized recommendations and allow readers to share their love for books in a dynamic way.
That’s the idea behind BookSloth: The importance of having a reader community. It still holds true today as we’re experiencing a global pandemic. In times like these, it has become increasingly difficult to browse bookstores or libraries in person to get book recommendations and we mostly rely on social media and virtual connections. The act of reading itself is generally an individual activity, but when we read the same books, we all experience the story as part of an audience. We’re bringing that audience together and creating a space where they can interact and discuss books as a seamless part of their reading experience.
BookSloth improves the book discoverability process by allowing readers to browse books they might not hear about otherwise. With our unique rating system, readers can say which elements make a book great, whether it’s great characters, the plot, the writing style, and more. We go beyond recommending the usual genres and focus on what the readers love most about their books.
Our app features a personalized Book Discovery page, a Community to share recommendations or discuss books, Reading Challenges, and a Profile where you can organize and show off your book library and recommendations. We have created a hub specific for the Young Adult book community to connect them with like-minded readers.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, it was rare to read any YA fantasy or contemporary books that included diverse characters that we could identify ourselves with or who shared our same background. That is why on our Discover page, we want to highlight all types of authors and books that are inclusive and feature a range of diverse stories and characters.
The publishing industry is growing and evolving, and we want to be a part of this change. Reading is important in many ways; it helps people grow emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. Reading can provide a sense of belonging and can increase people’s empathy or compassion by giving readers a different view of the world and the lives of others. In short, our goal is to help Young Adult readers discover all types of books and authors so that they can enjoy the best reading experience and share it with their community.
We’ve learned a lot over the past two years and have had great reception from readers. We’re planning to launch our web version by the end of this year and are super excited to launch new features and app updates, so stay tuned for more! BookSloth is available for download for free on the App Store and Google Play. You can also follow us @bookslothapp on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Lincy Ayala is Co-Founder and CEO of BookSloth. Lincy began her career as a biologist, whose love for animals had her working at a Nonprofit Wildlife preserve. Soon after, she re-discovered her passion for design when preparing graphics for the wildlife enclosures. From there she became a freelance developer/designer and has worked with multiple companies over the last 6 years. Her work has included designing responsive and interactive websites, mobile apps, and physical products, among many others. Among her work, she has collaborated with WomenTechOver, a community of women who get together to talk about their technology projects and inspire other women to pursue tech careers while also advocating for more inclusive work environments. When she’s not working, you’ll find her cuddled up reading a YA, fantasy, or sci-fi book.