Features include searching for books by the problem you are trying to solve, one-stop cross-searching of all the hacker sites so you can review what other hackers say about the book, and free startup tools like a countdown clock for your startup's runway.
About the time I did my site there were a bunch more book sites created. If I had the list I'd be happy to post those as well. Seems like books -- both free and paid -- are always in demand with this community. I think the key feature here in all of these sites is "community curated." I find reading what other hackers say an irreplaceable aspect of selecting which books to read. (My list was generated by spending a couple of days on Google searching HN and reddit finding the best-of-the-best books for hackers)
I would suggest that you explicitly name the site as hacker-books or something like that. For people who don't know about HN, would be able relate to the name better.
Also consider adding a list of online resources that are not in published form. There are a ton of that out there, would make it even more diverse.
Overall, thanks for your effort.
Great idea about the name and the online resources. Thanks! I tried adding tools for a while. There are a lot of possibilities with a site like this. My plan is just to take it slowly. Since it's a classics thing, there's no hurry.
Sorry for the delayed response. Today of all days, there's been a blackout in my neighbourhood, an all-too-frequent occurence, sadly. The lights just came back on, so I'm pulling an all-nighter for the urgent stuff. The response has been nothing short of overwhelming, and I'm looking forward to start iterating based on your input. I'm truly grateful.
Some pretty embarrassing bugs have shown up that I didn't notice in production. I want to start working on those tonight.
As for the feature suggestions, some recurring themes seem to be
1. A search function. I might implement a rudimentary search anytime from today after I squash the bugs. The sorting might present an issue, but I'm looking forward to working on it.
For now, this should work hackershelf.com/topic/<topic>/ e.g. http://hackershelf.com/topic/ruby/. Don't forget the trailing slash for now.
2. Alternative links. This was actually in the initial version, but I wasn't happy with how I implemented it. Perhaps a free-form notes box will do the trick. Any suggestions?
3. RSS feeds.
Also, any thoughts for a forum where the community can give suggestions in terms of features and bugs would be helpful. I shall be posting updates on my tumblr for now (http://journal.okal.me/tagged/hackershelf) under the tag "hackershelf" for the foreseeable future, when this story inevitably falls off the front page, so you might want to check that
Survey papers are particularly useful. Exploring their bibliographies is one of the fastest ways to get up to speed on a particular issue.
It took me 3 visits to the site to figure out how to add something to my shelf. The little pin would probably be better served if it were below the short description next to the 'Book Profile' and 'Book Website' links on the browse page. Though since adding a book is really the primary action you want your user to take I'd say make it a really obvious button that goes underneath the image of the book cover.
Also once I've clicked on a book to learn more about it, there's no little pin icon on the in-depth description page. Again I'd suggest making it really prominent and obvious. I went back and forth between browse and the description page several times looking for it. I need the brain dead 'Add this thing' button. Your pages are minimal, which is great, because it means that you can make that button obvious very easily. I think there was a good HN article a while back about making the most important item on the page obvious. IMO adding something to my shelf is the most important user action because after I've added just one book I now feel like I have a bit of a virtual stake in that profile I just created and I will definitely come back to build my collection :)
Great idea! Thanks for creating it
P.S. Also just noticed that the hacker shelf logo and title text does not link anywhere. I'd suggest that take the user home.
Someone else pointed out the issue with the nondescript pins. I'll find a way to make it more prominent.
I hadn't realized how frustrating it would be until I had to move back to the 'browse' page to add a book from its profile. That should be an easy fix. Expect an update within the week.
I fixed the logo so it points to the main page, so that should be okay now.
I'm glad you like it. I appreciate the feedback :)
Licensing info might be useful as well. Some of these are free to read but not to distribute.
Other than that - great idea. Best of luck!
Awesome project by the way, will definitely be using this.
You need a way to let people specify an image from a URL, not just upload one from local storage.
1) How are points assigned? I don't see any place to upvote/downvote, but I see that certain books have points while others do not.
2) There should be a way to sort by points.
Edit: Also, maybe a tagline at the top? (e.g. "Community curated collection of legally free books.") The 'about' page discusses the purpose of the site, but if I happened to just stumble upon the site, it wouldn't be clear how this is different from other sites that do not concern themselves with legality... especially since you have 'hacker' in the title ;)
As for sorting by points, I was hoping to add that when I implement search.
I agree, I should probably make the "legally" more explicit :) It's already in the title though.
Btw, I'd like to echo someone's request for an RSS feed. I'd love to see when new books are added, and I wouldn't mind if you had ads or affiliate links to Amazon for hard copies in those updates.
Yes, we're talking about books that are not legally free
When I go to a startup's offices or a friend's house I often flick through their library of tech books and then find myself picking one or two to buy on my Kindle. I'm sure you do this too.
I find myself doing this with the dropbox share I'm on - I skim through the pdf of an interesting book and then just buy it on my Kindle.
Ask your work colleagues if they are on any such Dropbox shares, there are a few of them.
EDIT: I assumed I'd get downvoted for the above, despite being careful with my wording. Just to be clear: I'm just saying that there are DropBox shares of this content - that is a fact. And that when I go to startups and read their books, I often buy them - this is also a fact. And that your colleagues might already be on these shares - this too is also a fact. That's it.
I didn't down-vote you. But if I posted a comment about Usenet or torrents or other sources of not-legally-free books I'd expect some downvoting or negative comments.
One thing I noticed is that if I add a book while in the 'browse' list view, I am thrown to the top of the page where I am given a notification. If I could maintain my position on the page that would be ideal, maybe a pop-up notification that the book was added; or replacing the pin icon with another graphic for removing the book from the shelf. This way I don't have to scroll past all the books I have already looked through (not as big of a deal at the moment, but I could see it becoming an issue as the collection of books grows).
Also as you add features to the site, an option for browsing books in a 'grid view' rather than just a list could potentially be useful. Especially as the collection grows.
Best of luck, looking forward to see the resource this site will become for the hacker community.
I'll work on the scroll, but bear with it for now. There's zero JS on the frontend right now, except for some analytics code. Adding to your shelf shouldn't require a whole page load. I'll ajaxify it in stages.
Thanks for the wishes!
I do have some critiques of the site, though.
- Why do I need a password and email address to keep a list of free books? There's no private information here.
- I'd really, really like to be able to search
- Failing that, I'd love to see the list all on one long page, organized in some way -- even if it's just alphabetically.
[edit: also, clicking top left should always lead back to the front page] [and you shouldn't be displaying "shelves" on "about" to people not logged in] [and now someone else has registered it anyway]
How about download links to PDFs (and other formats if avail)? In my experience quite often links to external sites are down/changed/weird/unclear etc; straight downloads would be better imho.
As for the direct link vs. link to the website... You could have both maybe?
Perhaps, they are submitted around the same time?
Edit: Now, I notice two entries for "Learn You a Haskell" too which are pretty far apart in their ids.
Looks great though, and nice idea.
Thanks for the efforts :)
Nit: On the about page,
when not logged in, clicking on the "shelf" button tries to go to
but crashes with TypeError
"int() argument must be a string or a number, not 'AnonymousUser'"
Maybe ratings are what "points" are, but I'm not sure exactly what points means in the context of this site. Care to elaborate?
Points are a rudimentary ratings system based on how many times a book has been added to members' shelves. They will tie in to a possible karma system later on. Hope that helps. And thanks for the suggestions.
Tagging would be nice too.
Great job on the site, and thanks for making it - I've already added several books to my shelf.
Where is the password recovery form?
Not that I think there should be need for any password at all.
My username is the same as here though. Doesn't let me reuse the email address.
I'd rather have openID, or just let the user create password-less accounts. Who'd want to vandalise my account?
Also, if you are going to ask me for my email (supposedly for password recovery, a feature that doesn't exist at least for now) then you might as well not force me to come up with a user name and let me use the email address instead.
Also, why do I have to mouse-over to see the tags? tags that are terribly inconsistent, by the way. Since I can't log in I don't see if any user can vote on tags, or modify them, or just set tags for his own submissions. I suspect it's the latter and they're not curated. I mean, there are only a bunch of pages worth of books and they're already inconsistent enough to be basically useless as a means of categorisation. You should probably edit them to give the site an initial push.
Every little inconvenience exponentially increases the chances of the user not coming a 2nd time.
I like the concept, but at its current state this site makes me want to spider the hell out of it and do my file management locally.
Otherwise, great work!
It also would be really nice, if it had wiki capabilities.
I mean for editing such things.
I like that this is only for free books, since, as a poor grad student, I can actually do more than just window-shopping.
Edit: Why would this get downvoted, exactly?
1. the site is only about free books.
2. nobody cares about what books you have or want. The site is about free books that appeal to hackers.
3. do you really expect somebody to trawl your amazon list? If there are free books on there that would be of interest to the target audience, upload them.
Also it's more than introductions to various programming languages, there are more advanced concepts on the list that appeal to hackers.
Its 1 page of 17 books.