The great people over at RWA (Romance Writers of America) asked me to use and review their new romance novel app called "Novel Engagement." Of course, anytime I hear about a new book -related app, especially one dedicated to romance novels, I can't wait to check it out. But, first, they answered a few questions I knew readers would have about the app:
Tell us a little about Novel Engagement?
How many authors/books are currently on the app? Are only authors who are members of RWA able to be featured?
-There are more than 1,100 authors on the Novel Engagement app. Currently, only authors that are RWA members can sign up to participate in the app.
How would an author or publisher get their book or event to be listed on the app?
-They can contact RWA staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Why would someone want to use this app over other book apps, such as Goodreads?
- Novel Engagement appeals specifically to romance readers and helps them find romance novels and authors. One of many ways they can do so is by searching common romance subgenres, themes, and tropes. Looking for historical romances with a marriage of convenience plot? You can find it by searching for it in the app!
Also, you can choose to receive push notifications for releases on future books and for books by favorite authors.
Are users able to purchase books directly from the app to be sent to their ereaders? What about ordering print copies?
- The purchase links in the buy books section of the app send the reader outside of the app to purchase the book on a book retail site such as iBooks, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. The reader then purchases the book on the site of their choice and reads it in the application of their choice.
When do you expect all the features of the app to be fully operational (i.e. trivia, wallpaper/photos)? Are there any other features you expect to be added in the future that aren't there already?
- Readers should see an increase in interactive activities (such as trivia and contests) by September 2014. Before we add features, we’d like to hear from the readers on what new features they would like to see. They can let us know on twitter @NovelEngagement or Facebook www.facebook.com/NovelEngagement.
Thanks again for being here and answering our questions. Anything else you'd like to add?
-Just that I hope readers have fun finding new books to read through Novel Engagement and talking about the books on blogs like yours!
So, now that I knew a little about the app, I took the time to check it out. I had no problem finding and downloading it from the Google Play store on my Android smartphone (Just search "Novel Engagement") You sign up with just your name and email address. It loaded quickly with the opening "Home" page:
The "Books" and "Authors" sections are set up much like you would expect them to be. On the main Book page - the most recent releases are conveniently listed first. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the app since I always like to know what new releases are out there that I might be missing. Once you click on a title, similar to what you would find on Goodreads, book info includes cover, publication date/publisher, book blurb/synopsis, subgenre and tags. Missing is an actual page count, which I think most readers like to know, instead under "Length" it just says a "Novel" or "Novella." There are buttons here for Events, Contests, Trivia and something called "Remind Me," but out of the dozen or so book titles I clicked on, only one had any of these buttons working (a book release event.) There is a link to buy the book from here, which takes you to a drop down menu for how you want to purchase the book with lots of options such as the publisher's website, Kobo, B&N, Amazon, etc...
The "Reader Zone" - takes you to a section with Trivia (which stated,"No trivia being held now.Please check back later.") Contests (There was one) and a Lists section, which I felt really didn't belong here, but you can access it from the main menu, too.
The "Events" page has listings for both online and IRL book-related events, but there weren't many of either listed (although, surprisingly, the in-person events far outnumbered the online ones.)
Overall, I think it will be a useful app once more content is added. The intent is clear, but it's working as a skeleton for the more fun sections right now and the rest of the info isn't much that you can't find on more exhaustive sites like Goodreads. At the time of publication, there were only five "online" events listed, one "contest," and no trivia, photos or wallpaper. It's just a bit frustrating to use with so few of the features fully functional, but I can easily see its potential and look forward to using it in the future once it gets a little more developed.
About The Romance Writers of America: Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a nonprofit trade association, with a membership of more than 10,500 romance writers and related industry professionals, whose mission is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.