As anyone reading my blog knows, I enjoy reading books quite a lot. I liked the idea of goodreads and wrote some book reviews there. But I didn’t like the iPhone app they provided and so I got the idea of writing my own goodreads app. In a similar way as there are alternative twitter clients, I would create an alternative goodreads client. They had an API I could use but they required anyone wanting to use that API to tell them how it would be used. So I contacted them and told them about my idea. It took them pretty long to answer and after about two weeks they allowed me to use their API to write a freeware app.
So I was not allowed to earn any money with my app. While in other circumstances it is rewarding to create something and to give it away for free, I actually wasn’t thrilled to invest my time into a goodreads app and not get anything back.
Back then there was a social network called app.net. It had been crowd sourced and I had been part of that crowd sourcing. It was to be an ad-free alternative to FaceBook and twitter. And contrary to those other social networks which didn’t want to allow third party too much access to their networks, app.net was build with third party developers in mind. The API was extensive and had some features not present elsewhere.
I dived into that API and got to the conclusion that I could build my book rating app on top of app.net.
I had left my day job and set out to make a career as an app developer. I worked for half a year day in day out and finally in April 2014 released the first version of bookitics. The app was free, because who would buy an app from an unknown developer, but it used a tip jar approach I’ve seen and liked in another app. You could buy up to five virtual books. You couldn’t actually read those books. They only filled a bookshelf in the settings area of the app and had funny names like “Fifty Shades of Beige” and “Past and Pretense” that were meant to be puns on well known titles.
As with Osmorc I took words describing the purpose of the app — book critics — and created the name “Bookitics” from them.
Some people bought those books but by far not enough to make a living of it.
Bookitics has been a financial failure for me, but I learned quite a bit along the way. I had been doing some internal app development at the company I was working for then and even in some projects for our clients, but this was the first occasion to really work exclusively on an app. I acquired much knowledge about Objective-C and app development during that time.