BookYap (Free) by BookYap, LLC is a beautiful universal app designed to help book lovers find books, and other bibliophiles who love to yap about them.
It’s a great idea. We’ve seen variations on Amazon.com, Facebook, the iBook Store, even on iPhone, and the formula can enhance the reading experience if done correctly. BookYap, however, offers a stylish tag-search, but lacks substance.
When you open the app, a gorgeous GUI greets you. It automatically pulls up some of the week’s most popular titles: a mix of pulp and literary fiction with the odd bio or classic.
To the left (or below, it works in both orientations) there are categories, with clever names like Thrill Seeker, Alpha Male, and Lab Rat, along with more conventional ones like Parent and Activist.
Tapping on a category allows you to explore thousands of titles within it.
Tapping a cover toggles a page where you can read a brief overview of the book, find user reviews from other “Yappers” and a link to the paper copy at amazon.com.
You can create wish-lists and view a log of your Yaps, and you can set a few filters, like hype-degree, and book length, but you can’t create a virtual bookshelf, or do much else.
If BookYap’s sole function is to help you find your next read in a new way, it succeeds. But that's the subtitle; the app's name implies more.
There is, of course, the “Yap about it” tab, but that's where BookYap lost me. I was disappointed to find that tapping with the intention of yapping is not really an option.
You just open the same blank review panel you would in iBooks or in the App Store. There’s no back and forth, no profound insight, just generic user comments and ratings.
There are no forums, no social media integration, and no way to share your finds. So basically what we’re left with is a book suggesting utility.
Fair enough. I find weeding through iBooks or Amazon.com onerous. I have taken to reading my books digitally, but don’t enjoy the shopping experience.
BookYap could be a solution, but its database is woefully lacking and the tags don't always make sense.
I am presently reading a popular work of historical fiction, a pre-set category, which was released three weeks ago. But I couldn't find it in BookYap.
I was surprised, so I checked the top spot on this week’s NYT’s Hardcover Fiction chart. A search for Nora Roberts' Chasing Fire yielded only something entitled Men on Fire with a buff, bare-chested fire-fighter on the cover.
Then I went to the Funny Guys tab. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don’t find Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman or Franz Kafka’s short stories particularly comedic. Ironic maybe, but not normally filed under humor.
I love a good “BookYap” as much as any book lover, but if you’re looking for conversation, timely recommendations, or any sort of interactivity you won’t find it here.
Stick with iBooks or Kindle, or pick a paid option. Personally I’m sticking to Goodreads (free) for iPhone. It’s not universal, but it delivers everything BookYap’s name promises, and more.
BookYap is a handsome tool if your taste in books is mainstream and you find user reviews helpful.
But if you’re like me and have a hard time not out-pacing the publishing industry, and need to actually gab about lit, BookYap lacks the breadth and substance to make it a winner.