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SALT LAKE CITY — Books are the only media source without content ratings. Movies, television, video games, songs — these all have a rating system to inform consumers of such things as violence, foul language and sex. We can even restrict our Internet browsers.
But not books.
If you’re content-conscious, there’s a big risk in picking up a new novel or recommending one to your child or teen you haven’t previously read.
Jed Grant and Daniel Evans want to minimize that risk for readers with their new website literrater.com. “Rating and finding books based on specific characteristics and content drastically reduces what one might call ‘reader’s remorse,’ ” Evans said.
Evans, Literrater’s marketing, research and business development manager, is a graduate of Brigham Young University and previously worked for Amazon. It was there at the Seattle headquarters for the company that he met Grant, a graduate of Utah State University. Grant designed his first website at age 11, is an aspiring author, and the inspiration behind Literrater.
How Literrater works
The website, currently in public beta, is cleanly designed, easy to use, and offers a few things other popular book sites are missing.
Readers sign up for a free account and can immediately start rating or finding books based on characteristics such as amounts of violence, strong language, suspense, romance, sex, action, humor, etc.
Evans explained, “Readers can move a slider on the rating page to indicate how much or how little of a specific characteristic is found in a book they’ve read.” This new functionality is unique to Literrater. These sliders are also used in the "find books" function.
Or more simply, books are rated and searchable by the movie scale: G, PG, PG-13, R and X.
Think of the filtering feature as 'the Autotrader of books.' The reader is only shown the kind of books they really want.
“Think of the filtering feature as ‘the Autotrader of books,’ ” Evans added. “The reader is only shown the kind of books they really want.”
Books are also rated with a number score of 1-100, similar to Rotten Tomatoes, and readers can write reviews.
Literrater is a social media platform where readers can follow others and interact. Users earn points based on activity that are redeemable for free e-books or gift cards. Literrater links to Amazon’s inventory and so also advertises e-book deals.
Evans and Grant want to help writers and authors as well. The "writer side" of the site allows writers and authors to post, edit and solicit feedback on projects, from single chapters to whole novels. Social writing sites such as Wattpad have made this type of interaction popular with writers and fans.
“Writing projects enable writers to build relationships with their fans by letting them get involved in the writing process,” said Grant. “It’s also a way to crowd source editing, cover design and marketing.”
In the future, Literrater hopes to offer publishing deals that include a royalty advance and marketing for authors. The community will choose which books get published. Grant and Evans also aspire to produce movies based on the books they publish.
Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a monthly column for KSL.com and contributes book-related segments to "Studio 5 with Brooke Walker. Her novels "Blood Moon" and "Black Moon" are now available in stores and online. Join in the magic at teriharman.com.*