I consider Readernaut, along with Cork’d and 97 Bottles, to fit into a category of websites that I’ll call (for want of a simple and short descriptor) “activity trackers”. These web apps represent social networks built around common consumption, be it reading books or drinking wine. Members discuss, rate, and list what they have individually consumed. There may be a few extra bells and whistles specific to each activity (a “cellar” for Cork’d, for example), but the basic structure is the same.
The three websites I’ve specified are all pretty sweet – most everything seems to work as described and there are detailed methods for sharing the specifics of your intake without overwhelming the user. The problem I have with each of them, however, is that they all seem to make clerical work out of my leisure time. If I want to make good use of these websites, I can’t simply read my book. I have to pull up Readernaut and enter the last page number when I’m finished. And when I’m done, there’s the compulsion to render an opinion, or at least remember to rate the book. And no longer can I just try a new beer at Capital Ale House (heaven help my taste buds’ memory if it’s the first of a few). I have to recall the name, taste, aroma, color, and so on. Should I whip out my Moleskine and jot down tasting notes for later? How reliable will my notes be after beer number three?
Maybe some iPhone apps would help, but then I’m still that guy pulling out my doodad to take notes or post a rating. And I still have to add routine to my leisure time.
All of this probably indicates little other than me not being the target audience of these web apps. But maybe the reason Readernaut doesn’t get much attention is because I’m in the majority. That doesn’t make these web apps bad; I’m simply suggesting that they’re likely to be relegated to a niche market.