Further tidying: the more I read about web design, the better I desire my3books to become

Sweep the sleaze

Today's lecture: removing the persistent "share" buttons at the end of every post.

I read a great article today by Oliver Reichenstein at Information Architects called "Sweep The Sleaze" – and it made me think (again!) even more closely about WHY we put all the crufty tidbits all over our pages online.  Do we really want our own pages – blog posts, carefully constructed essays, linky goodness – to look like every other page? Do we put up those sharing links to attract more links? Is it voodoo? Or do we put them up as markers about how popular our posts are, bragging about our site?

If I'm a middle-of-the-road sort of book blogger, going my own way, and I'm not attracting Boing Boing levels of attention, does it even matter? Do these buttons BUILD traffic for my3books? Or do they just serve as advertising for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc?

As Reichenstein put it: "What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands — and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit... The user doesn’t come out of nowhere. We don’t land on your page and then head happily to those social networks to promote you, just because you have a button on your site. We find content through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc., not the other way around."

 

 

He also linked to an earlier post at the ZURBlog titled Small, Painful Buttons: Why Social Media Buttons Might Be Killing Your Mobile Site. In one sentence: "Those tiny Tweet, Like, +1 buttons you see on websites are actually brutally large elements to load for these constrained devices."

More evidence in support of this approach, via Smashing Magazine:

 

 

So, today's changes: I pulled the social media link buttons out of my page template. Feel free to tweet about or share my posts on your Tumblr, Facebook page. You don't need my help to do that!

The inspirations behind the simpler & cleaner my3books look

I've spent some time tidying things up here at my3books HQ, changing some colors around, finding a new typeface, removing some unwanted elements from the page layouts. And much of the inspiration has come from a couple of really smart designers and bloggers that I follow. Thanks for the inspiration, guys!

Jeffrey Zeldman is a legendary web designer and publisher, and he published a new web design manifesto last week that calls for simpler page designs and larger type. In an era where web apps and mobile apps such as Instapaper and Readability are almost required to tiny fonts and cluttered page designs into something approaching simple legibility – his thought process feels revolutionary. He wrote "...it indicates how pathetic much of our web design is when our visitors increasingly turn to third party applications simply to read our sites’ content. It also suggests that those who don’t design for readers might soon not be designing for anyone."

Another design guru for me in the blogging and online world has been Los Angeles-based culture blogger Bobby Solomon, whose main online home is The Fox is Black, a blog that covers movies, books, music, graphic design, and architecture. Back in April, I noticed that he'd completely revamped The Fox is Black with a cleaner & simpler site design. Earlier this week, he linked to the Zeldman manifesto in a post about his own thoughts on the site redesign and their two posts really got me thinking.

So using my own limited web design skills and the tools built into the Squarespace site kit, I took out some extraneous social media modules, I lightened up the colors, moved some of the details about each post down to the bottom, and most importantly pumped up the type sizes. While I didn't go all the way up to 24px for the text typeface, most of what you'll be reading on this site is now pegged at 18px. Even on pocket-sized mobile devices, posts should be clearly legible. And on devices like the new iPad, with its Retina Display, it looks pretty sweet.

I welcome your feedback, though I'm thinking a lot about what Bobby wrote on his redesign post - he took out inline comments, trusting instead to feedback by email and via social media channels, saying "I’ve ripped out the comments from the site. 98% of comments are unnecessary, like correcting a spelling error I made or saying “That’s cool!” Neither of those comments really add to the overall story or conversation, and a lot of times there’s no conversation to be had." My experience on my3books has been that for every one comment I receive that's from an actual person wanting to add to the dialogue on this site, at least 20 have been spam posts. Something has to change, but I haven't decided what to do yet. So for now anyway, feel free to comment here.

It's coming up on my3books' three year birthday in June (June 6, to be exact!) and while I've never matched the pace and energy I was able to put into it those first six months, I feel invigorated and inspired to continue writing and posting here. I hope you'll keep coming around.

Looking back at 2011: the music

Like a lot of publishing sales reps, I spend a lot of time listening to music, both at home and on the road. This year, with the arrival in the US of Spotify, I was able to indulge in a more expansive sort of experimental listening. And that, combined with a renewed account at last.fm which meant I scrobbled nearly every Spotify track I listened to, gave me a fairly easy base for looking back at 2011's music.

My most-played & favorite artists/tracks from 2011 (Spotify playlist)

  1. Wilco - I Might (spotify)
  2. Feist - How Come You Never Go There (spotify)
  3. Arctic Monkeys - The Hellcat Spangled Shalala (spotify)
  4. Mike Doughty - Into The Un (spotify)
  5. Dave Stewart - Can't Get You Out of My Head (spotify)
  6. The Belle Brigade - Lonely Lonely (spotify)
  7. The Watson Twins - You Showed Me (spotify)
  8. Laura Marling - The Muse (spotify)
  9. The Decemberists - This Is Why We Fight (spotify)
  10. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Codeine (spotify)

Honorable Mentions

  • Bon Iver - Holocene (spotify)
  • Nick Cave & Neko Case - She's Not There (from True Blood) (spotify)
  • Real Estate - It's Real (spotify)
  • Florence + The Machine - What The Water Gave Me (spotify)
  • Elbow - lippy kids (spotify)
  • Fool's Gold - Wild Window (spotify)
  • Beastie Boys - Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win (feat. Santigold) (spotify)
  • Beirut - East Harlem (spotify)
  • The Jayhawks - She Walks in So Many Ways (spotify)
  • The Civil Wars - 20 Years (spotify)
  • Kathleen Edwards - Change The Sheets (spotify)
  • Ryan Adams - Chains of Love (spotify)
  • Lissie - In Sleep (spotify)
  • Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations - Diggin' In The Sand (spotify)
  • Wild Flag - Romance (spotify)
  • I Break Horses - Winter Beats (spotify)
  • Destroyer - Savage Night At the Opera (spotify)
  • Drive-By Truckers - Used To Be A Cop (spotify)
  • Foo Fighters - These Days (spotify)
  • The Mountain Goats - Damn These Vampires (spotify)
  • The Dodos - Don't Try and Hide It (spotify)
  • Fleet Foxes - Battery Kinzie (spotify)
  • Peter Bjorn and John - Second Chance (spotify)

My most-played & favorite albums released in 2011

  1. Wilco - The Whole Love (spotify)
  2. The Decemberists - The King is Dead (spotify)
  3. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See (spotify)
  4. The Smiths - Complete (spotify)
  5. Mike Doughty - Yes and Also Yes (spotify)
  6. Feist - Metals (spotify)
  7. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (spotify)
  8. Dave Stewart - The Blackbird Diaries (spotify)
  9. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire (spotify)
  10. Bon Iver - Bon Iver (spotify)
  11. Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys (spotify)
  12. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (spotify)
  13. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Here We Rest (spotify)
  14. Destroyer - Kaputt (spotify)
  15. Drive-By Truckers - Go-Go Boots (spotify)

Honorable Mentions

  • Paul Simon - So Beautiful Or So What (spotify)
  • The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow (spotify)
  • Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations - Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations (spotify)
  • Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts (spotify)
  • The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time (spotify)
  • Wild Flag - Wild Flag (spotify)
  • Elbow - build a rocket boys! (spotify)
  • Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know (spotify)
  • Gillian Welsh - The Harrow & The Harvest (spotify)
  • Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (spotify)

my3books' First Impressions for Spring 2010: An Introduction

By way of introduction:

I spent a lot of time in November and December in a series of sales conference meetings with the publishers I represent and with the other sales reps who also represent them around the country.  These sales conferences took place via web conference, by phone conference call, and in person on both coasts and in the middle. The sales rep group I'm a member of added some new publishers to our list for this coming season, and it all added up to the longest, and most intensive, series of sales conferences I can remember.

I've been making notes all along about my favorite new books coming out in Spring 2010.  Some of them I've read all the way through, some I've seen just an excerpt of or sample chapters, and for some I'm going entirely on catalog copy and maybe a few page spreads.  Nevertheless, the books that you'll see featured in this coming series of short posts are the books that I was most excited about at the end of the sales conference process.

As the season progresses, I'll also be putting up more typical long-form posts about some Spring 2010 releases that I'm really excited about.  But it was this process of reading sales kits and reviewing my notes about the Fall 2009 season that caused me to start blogging at my3books in the first place, so I wanted to begin to put up these posts for this coming season.