Reading Log

Teen Book Finder — YALSA

Genre: App

I’ve got to say that though it feels quite cliche (can something be cliche when it’s not even 10 years old?) to hear the phrase “There’s an app for that.” Though, poke around the Apple or Android store and you’ll certainly find that the phrase rings true. There’s even an app that acts like a TV remote (yes, I’ve looked into it. Sadly it wouldn’t work with my TV).

So, when I thought about how I was going to need some help finding books (particularly of the non-fiction variety) for the YA lit class, I thought “wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app for that?” There is, and let me tell you, it’s not everything I dreamed it to be.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. It allows you to favorite books as you find them in order to more quickly find them later.
  2. You can link your social media to share about the books you look at if you feel so inclined.
  3. There is a “find-it” feature that, if you allow it to use your location, will find it at libraries near you. I don’t know how well this works because I am wary of allowing apps to access my location unless I feel there is a good reason for them to do so. Since I don’t see myself spending much more time with this app, I didn’t allow it.
  4. There are daily “Hot Picks” on the home page (and there is a button that brings you to them once you’ve gotten away) that display a few recommended picks right away.
  5. It lists books on various lists such as “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” and by their awards such as the YALSA Excellence in non-fiction (how’s that for fate?)

There are a lot of cool features and I can tell that a team of people really worked hard to provide some solid recommendations regarding Young Adult literature. However, it doesn’t matter unless the targeted audience is going to utilize its information, right?

Assuming actual young adults (and not their parents/librarians/teachers) are the intended audience, it’s unlikely this app is going to achieve its goals. Here’s why:

  1. The color scheme is awful. With a predominantly orange background and navy blue headings, it does not feel inviting unless the user is a serious Syracuse fan.
  2. It looks clunky and amateurishly made. You can tell it’s a free app; like those weird knock-off games you download because you want to play solitaire but don’t think you should have to pay for it.
  3. It does not have much integration in terms of recommending like titles, and the browsing feature is completely alphabetical. It would take a heck of a lot of commitment to make it past the Cs on the title and author lists. What’s more, you have to decide a title or author sounds worthy enough to click on first before learning anything about it, unless you’re searching by award/lists.
  4. In addition to being difficult to locate a title that one might be interested in, they didn’t capitalize on what I think would have been the most helpful: related titles. I want to know if I have read a book, what might I also like? This is why I love NoveList, and one of the reasons this app isn’t going to take up space on my phone after the end of the week.

It would be in YALSAs best interest to look into overhauling this app to make it more integrative and visually appealing if they want to get it on young reader’s phones/tablets.

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