Searching for books is hard. One of the quirky little bugs at the start of the week was that I was getting a lot of German books back in the search results. Before long, I realised that the server that is running my app (on render.com) was based in Germany, and that the GoogleBooks API is very sensitive in its results to the location where of the request.
I tried a few ways round this, adding language and coutry parameters to the request, but nothing worked. GoogleBooks does not want to give people in Germany information about books sold in Britain. Turns out the current global state of book search APIs is also pretty dire - GoogleBooks is the only good free one.
So, I had to move the whole app back to the UK (digital reverse Brexit). Render doesn’t have a server location in the UK, so I had to switch to a different Platform-as-a-Service provider (Digital Ocean). All together, working out that I needed to switch and then moving everything over, cost me a couple of days 😞
An underwhelming launch for FutureTales
By Friday I’d finally got the app to a state where I thought I could show it in public. It had Amazon affiliate links for every book, automated emails that sent the book recommendations through, and the opportunity to log in and see the books that have been recommended.
Still super basic, but kind of a product.
So I made a post on r/ChildrensBooks. Over 400 people viewed the Reddit post, but I got fewer than 10 people visiting the site as a result.
Not the viral success story I was hoping for. This was my favourite comment:
The low conversion rate is kind of surprising - you’d think that people on a children’s book subreddit might be curious about a chilren’s book recommendation site.
I guess this means I need to focus on marketing and user research for the next couple of week. Get it in front of as many people as possible. I now have some pretty good ideas for improving the onboarding process and landing page too, so I will try those out.
If I’m still getting the same tumbleweed reaction by the end of the week, it might be an early exit for FutureTales.
See you next week!