[App Fridays] How virtual book club Vowelor is bringing bibliophiles together

Vowelor, which claims to be India’s first community-based virtual reading platform, has more than 90,000 readers and authors. The app connects members, lets them discuss and ‘find’ books in real-time, and offers relevant content.

Books give us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. And what could be better than having a companion (or more) on the journey?  

Delhi-based Vowelor is bringing bibliophiles together in a virtual book community. Founded by best friends and book lovers Manik Ghawri (27) and Lalit Sharma (26) in 2017, Vowelor is a virtual platform that connects readers and lets them discuss books and authors. It also provides a platform for budding authors to showcase and market their publications.

According to the Association of Publishers in India (API), there are more than 9,000 publishers and over 21,800 bookstores in the country. While startups like Chennai-based Notion Press and Noida-based AllAuthor are helping authors promote their work, Vowelor aims to bring together authors, readers, publishers, and book stores in a single ecosystem.

The app connects readers and lets them discuss books in real-time, helping them pick reads in an informed manner. The company claims that it is India’s first community-based reading platform, with more than 90,000 readers and authors.

We decided to explore the app and review it to see how it stacks up.

How it works

Login with your Gmail, Facebook, or Amazon account. You land on a welcome page with multiple interest areas such as sci-fi, biography, mystery, romance, fantasy, poetry and more. Tap into your top three interests.

The next page is impressive – it allows you to scan the book you are currently reading. If you don’t have a barcode, you can search or import from Goodreads, or else just skip the step. However, this feature can be used later to add books to your library.

On Vowelor, readers can create a library of books that they are currently reading, have already read, and want to read in the future. We tried scanning two books via barcode, and the feature worked well.

The app then takes you to the homepage, which has two sections: All Bookclubs and MyBookclubs.  A strip running at the bottom of the homepage lets you check messages, notifications, people you follow, and a tab (marked with reading glasses) that lets you explore the app, find what you should read, book clubs, what’s viral etc.

Follow your interests

Vowelor lets you follow libraries of readers whom you find interesting. Whenever they add any book to their libraries, you get a notification automatically.

The app also lets you create your own book clubs and invite your friends to be part of them. The What’s Viral feature is an engaging section and features curated articles related to books, updates on new book releases, book reviews, trending content etc.

To use the key highlight of the app, which is a live discussion of the book, you need to add the title in your library. This lets you see who all are currently reading that book, and you can follow/message them in real-time. Like on most reading apps, you can also write reviews for the books you have read. 

Popular book clubs on the app include The Book Nerds, Poetry Society, Classic Fiction Fans, Harry Potter Bookclub, Shakespeare Society etc.

The app has another interesting feature - Let’s Find, which allows you to find what you can read next. We really liked the feature. Just add three words describing your interests and it recommends suitable titles for you. Keep swiping right for suggestions. If you like a particular title, just open it. The page will then show a summary, user reviews, and the number of users who want to read, have read, and are currently reading.

However, it would have been wonderful if users could also read books in the app or it could have some kind of synchronisation with Kindle. Because remember the beginning? We could join the app using an Amazon account.

The verdict

Vowelor is not for all avid readers; it is only for those who like to discuss the in’s and outs of book. The app is also good for aspiring authors as they can get instant feedback from users on the app.

The app is fine on the surface, but needs improvement in multiple areas. Firstly, there should be more users to discuss every book. Some popular books do not even have one user. Some users also commented that the app crashes a lot. However, we did not come across any crash or bug while using it. 

Currently available as a website and an Android application, the Vowelor app has 10,000 downloads and a rating of 3.5 on the Play Store. Given that the app caters to a niche audience, the metrics cannot be compared with other book reading apps. The app size is 16 MB, which is great for even low-specs phones.

With its concept of “why read alone”, Vowelor is a great platform for readers and writers. It not only lets them connect with like-minded book lovers; it also solves the perennial “what-to-read-next” problem and allows discussions on books. The best part? It’s free. Go ahead and bond over books.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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