Book Country is a social network for readers and writers of fiction. The community allows users to provide each other with constructive criticism, share tips, and learn more about publishing.
Book Country is a subsidiary of the Penguin Book Group. Though it is owned by Penguin, it is a separate body with its own staff, etc. Offices are located in New York, NY, and no historical data regarding site traffic is available.
This site is not for fiction that has been published. It is for writers seeking readers for feedback, discussion, and constructive criticism. Later in 2011, the application plans to expand to offer self-publishing services.
Once the account is activated, the user is directed to a page to complete a profile. Users may add a profile picture, personal information such as name, city, state, and gender. Preferred genres are added via checkbox list. Users may then offer a short bio of 160 characters or less. Next in the profile, users are invited to, within 1000 characters, describe their reading and writing. Next up are blanks for 5 favorite authors and 5 favorite books and then links to the user’s website, blog, and Twitter name.
At this point, the user is taken to their home page which contains the overview of their account. This is where they will seek connections, list books, view discussions, network, view industry topics, and earn badges. This is also where the user may use the genre map to find books.
During testing, several users were reviewed and connections requested. By connecting, you allow the user to see who you follow, view your connections, and read your books that have been uploaded. Recommendations can be traded. If users wish to have a more passive relationship, they can “follow” a user and see what they are doing on the site. People may be browsed by Top Peer Reviewers, Top Writers, and Top Talkers. People may also be viewed by the genre they have indicated they like.
The Industry section contains information and articles from publishing professionals.
The genre map interestingly provides a visual of where an uploaded book “lands” in relation to several traits. It also compares the genre to current books that reader users might be familiar with. Once a book is chosen, it may be followed or read and reviewed. The Peer Review consists of overall feedback, dialogue, pacing, and star ratings. The book must be read online, which is a downfall for the site, but understandable as the authors wish to protect their work. Works may not be downloaded, printed, or copy/pasted. At this point there is no iPhone or Android app to use with Book Country.
After a user has read and given feedback on 3 books, they may upload their own book to share with the Book Country community. Note that there is no private messaging between users.
The message forum is somewhat clunky to use, but there are certainly a lot of subjects to choose from. Genre talk, The Craft of Writing, Tools and Resources, The Business of Writing, Industry Happenings, and Book Country all have sub-threads for various subjects within each topic.
To join Book Country, users provide a display name, email address, and password. An email is immediately sent to the provided account with an activation link.
Book Country is completely free to use.
Aspiring writers and book lovers may enjoy this application. It is new, so whether or not all of the bugs are out or if it will benefit a user is unknown. However, people should NOT sign up thinking this is a way to get their book read and/or published by the Penguin group. This is NOT a channel for unsolicited manuscripts to Penguin editors.