Art Kavanagh

Criticism, fiction and other writing

Up to a point, with Copper

I’ve just signed up for another book/reading app. It’s called Copper and I believe it’s iPhone only for now, though there will eventually be Android and web versions. In the past, I haven’t managed to resist the lure of this kind of app or service, though I usually haven’t lasted on them for very long. I stuck with Litsy for about 3 months, and more recently with for 2. I stayed on Goodreads for much longer, though none too enthusiastically. As long as I was playing at being a self-published author, I felt I had no choice but to remain a Goodreads member.

Since I gave up on, almost 6 months ago. I’ve been using’s very rudimentary Bookshelves feature to track my reading. I’ve been enjoying using it, though I’m not sure how useful I’ve been finding it. I don’t usually need reading recommendations from people I’m following: there’s already enough on my list. More importantly, I’m far from convinced that I actually want to track my reading. What’s the point? If I’ve read something before, I’ll either remember the fact or not. And, if I don’t (and, in fact, even if I do), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t read it again, if it has caught my eye.

On the other hand … I’ve often been taken aback to discover how badly I remember the details of books I’ve read, even those I’ve read quite recently. Since learning about SDAM, I’ve been inclined to blame it for this state of affairs: after all, if I can’t vividly remember events I’ve experienced, why should I expect to be any better at remembering fictional or historical ones?

So, it seemed that it might be useful for me to take brief notes when I finish a book so that the recollection of having read it doesn’t just completely disappear into the void. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing.’s Bookshelves don’t accomodate notes or comments: there are fields for Author, Title, ISBN, cover image and that’s it.

Because of the limited features, if I was going to use Bookshelves to keep notes on the books I’d finished, I was going to have to create a Hugo template to allow the placing of additional text beside the books details on my “Finished reading” shelf. I had no experience of writing Hugo templates and only the vaguest idea of how the Hugo system works, so naturally that sounded like a fun challenge. And so it turned out, though I spent far too long tinkering with it. You can see the end result on my Bookshelf page.

What does Copper have to add that’s different, then? The app seems to be aiming at a more even balance between the interests of authors and readers than most of its predecessors. Apps like Litsy are ostensibly intended for readers, yet the most active users are typically authors who are trying to build up their readerships. Some readers are inevitably going to feel they’re being manipulated. Copper is open about its aim being to help authors extend their reach and to connect with their readers. According to their FAQ, “authors are the stars of the show”, though naturally they welcome readers too.

It may be — time will tell — that readers will, as a result, be less likely to feel that the app/service is trying to put one over on them, and they may be more inclined to trust it. This was always one of the problems with Goodreads: authors were being told that it was the ideal place to find new readers, and some readers came to resent the unwanted attention.

In other words, Copper’s approach is sufficiently different to make me think it might be worth a shot. I expect to return to the subject in a few months’ time.

Posted by Art on 22-May-2022.