iPhone app for BookMooch

May 23, 2009

HomeBm Iphone FlowBm-Iphone-Screens

I’ve started working with an iPhone application-writing company to make a BookMooch application for the iPhone.

The company (Cadile) gave me a fixed price bid of $2750, which is a really, really good deal, and I think it’s a good way to spend some of the money you’ve given to BookMooch. Their timeline calls for the application to be done within a month, and they’ve been extremely quick to turn things around to me, which is exciting.

The “BookMooch iPhone app Design” graphic I’ve attached is something I put together, and I also made some very primitive screen mockups in excel.

My goals with this app is to make is really easy to:
1) search for a book (searching either BM or Amazon)
2) add the book to your wishlist
3) add the book to your inventory (to give it away)
4) or mooch it.

Those seem like the main things you’d want to do with BookMooch when you’re out and about.

Of course, you can also use the BookMooch web site from your iPhone if you want to use features of BM that aren’t in the iPhone app. I’m also hoping that we’ll see some new users from the world of iPhone users joining BookMooch because of this.

I’m purposely keeping the feature list small because:
a) that keeps the price down
b) it’ll get done sooner
c) iPhone apps generally need to be to-the-point and not too feature rich
d) I’m getting the source code to the app, and will be able to make modifications to it myself in the future


70 Responses to “iPhone app for BookMooch”

  1. Wanda Tolbert said

    Sounds cool! Too bad that I am not into cell phones. But it is another way to get the word out about bookmooch! Nice idea!

  2. n8ux said

    I second Wanda’s comment. i too am a “basic cell phone” kinda person, but I could see the utility of adding a book to the wishlist or save-for-later, or searching an author while browsing a book store or library.

  3. Iris said

    That’s cool John! And even I don’t fancy IPhones, it is a good thing to hear though you might want to consider that not all people have IPhones already as it is expensive.

    Most people use Nokia, Samsung or Sony. 🙂 If only there is an SMS mobile feature for the 4 aforementioned goals, it would be a great thing to be notified thru mobile. I’m currently using Yahoo Mail and the mobile notification feature for Yahoo isn’t working at the moment so I hope there is some kind of portals (similar to Twitter country portals) so we can receive SMS alerts at a local affordable cost.

    I should applaud you though, for this wonderful idea John! 🙂

  4. Liv said

    This is amazing! I’ve been searching for a Bookmooch app since I got the phone awhile back. Very excited!

  5. Nic said

    What proportion of Bookmooch users have an iPhone though?

    Would it not attract more people if you were to optimise the site for *all* mobile devices? Of course, I don’t know if that’s feasible as I have no idea of costs, but as someone who uses an XdA, it would be my preferred option :o)

  6. re: SMS

    I’ve looked at adding SMS support to BookMooch, but there are two problems. a) SMSs are expensive to send, and BM is largely non-commercial and runs on very little money. and b) there is widespread abuse of SMS services because some countries have shared-revenue promotions with SMS (italy being one) and so people can make money by causing you to send them SMSs.

    As far as “why iPhone”, it’s because quite famously, a number of web sites have gotten huge numbers of new users from iPhone apps, most famously Pandora, last.fm and DatingDNA.

    There is an open programming API for writing apps for BookMooch, and my hope is that other devices, that can work with APIs, will be supported over time.

    • justelise said

      Wouldn’t logic deem that a mobile application open to all mobile devices would bring in EVEN MORE users than something iPhone specific? Furthermore, I’m not sure that all of the people who donated would be happy to hear that their money went to an application that they can’t use.

  7. Joel said

    I’m an iPhone user and am excited about an app for my phone but I agree that an optimized version for other devices (and for features on on the iPhone app) would be great as well. iPhones make it relatively easy to use the regular site but apps and mobile versions of sites do make things even easier.

    Although, the harder it is for people to use their mobile devices to use BookMooch the easier it is for me to be the first one to the site when something on my wishlist shows up.

  8. Stef said

    This is a great idea. I do almost everything via App when on the go, and this is great. Looking forward to it. And I agree, these main features are really all you would need on the go IMO.

  9. Cameron said

    I think this is awesome! I don’t have an iPhone, but my son does use an iTouch and most of the apps are interchangable. I know he’ll love adding this for me (NOT) and can’t wait to be even more mobile with my mooches!

  10. Jenni said

    This is great! I’m out a lot, and love to check the bookmooch website while on my iphone, but it would be so much easier if there were an App! Thanks.

  11. meagan said

    Very excited for this- I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it.

  12. Teresa said

    I am really looking forward to this app!

  13. What license will the application be released under? If you want those features added later without much effort on your part, you know what kind of license I’m going to recommend. 🙂

  14. Welllll…since the change to “No one is willing to send this to you” and the fact that I never get Recommendations anymore (glad not to get all the trash, but now never get classics or anything) I am finding that I use BM less and less often. Now that the rich folk can get to ’em even faster than us normal Joe’s I suspect I’ll just try harder to get rid of my points and give up BM altogether. But I want to thank you, John, for all that you do. It was a lot of fun here for the first year I was on it and I got some great things; was introduced to some wonderful books — now it is just a vast silence!

    • Jill said

      I thinking the ‘No one is willing to send this to you’ is when that person lives in another country and doesn’t have international set up in their settings. Just thought that might help!

    • Lisa said

      Actually people with cellphones that have email capacity, iphone or not, already have the quickest access to books, and they don’t need an app for that. I’ve noticed that i can never get to books in time anymore and I think it’s because people with those phones can check their email while they’re “on-the-go”

  15. Jill said

    I was fortunate enough to get an iPhone since hubby works for AT&T. I love the fact that you will now be adding an app for it. It’ll make it so much easier to add something to my wishlist while I am out and about since I have the first generation and the camera doesn’t do well for scanning barcodes on books. Thanks John! Loving this site!

  16. I will download it when it’s done, can’t wait 🙂

  17. Kara said

    I am thrilled to hear there will be a BookMooch iPhone app. One thing people complaining that it won’t do them any good because they don’t have iPhones might consider is that this will likely bring more new users (and hence, new books) to BookMooch. More exposure for BookMooch is a good thing, right?

    I was so excited when Sarah said I was rich because I have an iPhone that I had to check my bank account. Sadly, I found I was not rich. Bummer!

  18. Maggie said

    Yay! Another app of a site I already know and love. I am very excited to hear about this. Will there be a charge for this?

  19. Sarah said

    I love you, Mr. Buckman.

  20. Diane said

    I am an iPhone user and think this app will be fantastic!

  21. Tracy said

    Most iphone apps also run on the itouch – will this be one of them? (I have the Touch, but am steering well clear of the iPhone!).

    Thanks for the work and continuing effort you put into BM for all of us.

  22. Would be very cool if you by taking a photo of a book’s barcode could have it analyzed and searched for on Bookmooch, to quickly decide if anyone have it on their wishlist. That way, one could go through a huge amount of books in a short time, for example when browsing books at second hand shops/flea markets/etc. or when deciding whether to dump that box of old books in the attic.

    I would guess that this is far outside the budget for this iPhone application though 🙂

  23. bkly_2000 said

    I am so excited!! The iphone app will be amazing, especially to those of us who are on the go so much. It will be nice to be in a bookstore and look at my wishlist and see what’s on it!! Great JOB!

  24. Marine said

    “The company (Cadile) gave me a fixed price bid of $2750, which is a really, really good deal, and I think it’s a good way to spend some of the money you’ve given to BookMooch.”

    … Your money and your website, but I wonder how many of the people who donated money to BM thought this was going to make life easier for Iphone owners?

    And like another commentator: will we EVER get rid of this horrid “No one is willing to send this to you” message, which makes angel mooching a hassle, especially for us non Americans who use it frequently? Please communicate on the subject?

    I think that (cheaper) improvement would make a lot more people happier than some application on a fancy phone.

  25. Schneider said

    Finally! I am an iPhone user, and have been using BookMooch via its ordinary web-browsing feature, but this will be much smoother and faster.

    To non-iPhone users who question whether this is a good way to spend BookMooch funds: if it attracts new BookMoochers (and their inventories!), that will be a good thing for existing BookMoochers, whether they have an iPhone or not.

  26. mariahj said

    I don’t think that it matters whether or not current members have this device. This app should benefit current members anyway by helping to bring more attention to the site, bring in more members and thus make more books available to all of us. Current members that do have the device will certainly find it very useful.

  27. Schneider said

    Sorry, I forgot to say:

    Thank you, John.

  28. Chel said

    I would LOVE an app for my iPhone!

  29. Jeannie said

    I have an iphone. When can I use the app?

  30. rachel said

    i was just about to search for a bookmooch app for my iphone. sounds great, can’t wait. will it be free for users?

  31. Stina said

    It’s great to hear about improvements to bookmooch. But in using donations collected in an appeal for basic server support, shouldn’t re-purposing of those funds be for things that everyone can use?

  32. Teldira said

    Love this idea!!! I just accessed BM via my iPhone looking for some books when I saw your blog. Can’t wait for the app. Thanks for all your hard work.

  33. Nancylou said

    I love the iphone app idea. I use an ipod touch and should be able to use that app with my touch.
    Thanks, John!

  34. Maxine said

    Fabulous! Often have been using iPhone Safari to access Bookmooch…yet this will be MUCH better!

  35. Donna said

    I think this is a wonderful idea! This app would be a useful tool when I’m out looking for books!

  36. Schneider said

    Stina said:

    “It’s great to hear about improvements to bookmooch. But in using donations collected in an appeal for basic server support, shouldn’t re-purposing of those funds be for things that everyone can use?”

    One thing that every BookMoocher can use is the participation of more users: more new users will mooch more books from existing users, and the inventories of new users will provide more books to mooch for existing users.

    So, since, as John pointed out, “a number of web sites have gotten huge numbers of new users from iPhone apps,” the creation of an iPhone app WILL provide “things that everyone can use:” more moochers, and more books.

  37. One feature I’d really like to see that doesn’t appear on your design diagram is an nice view of my entire wishlist. I use the BM wishlist as my general reading wishlist and it would be great if I could use it more easily while I’m at a used book store. It is sort of usable with the general Safari browser on the iPhone, but it’s not easy. A nicely formatted wishlist page would be great!


  38. I am incredibly excited about this! Please let us know when it is available via AppStore! Are you planning to charge a fee for the app or will it be free?

  39. Julie said

    This will be great! I have an iPhone but don’t use bm with it because it’s pretty slow and clunky trying to go through the Safari browser. I will most definitely be an early adopter!

  40. Quick responses to questions:

    – the app will be free

    – viewing/deleting from wishlist is a good idea for a v1.1 feature

    – yes, will run on iPod touch

    – the source code to the iPhone app will be released with an open source GPL license and will be an open project at sourceforge.net

    – bar code scanning — I’ve seen one other app feature that support, so I know it’s possible. However, taking a photo takes many seconds, often 10 seconds, with other apps, so I’m not sure it saves much time from typing in the ISBN

  41. Kim said

    THANK you this is great news. I have an Iphone and will use this app with great pride. I like to be able make mooch while on the go and this will help me. THANK YOU again for doing this

  42. Laura said

    Thank you, what a great idea. I have an Iphone & can’t wait for this.

  43. Kara said

    Well I understand that on the surface, it appears that some BookMoochers are being left out because they don’t have a “fancy” phone, I am wondering why so many people don’t seem to see the real benefit behind the Bookmooch iPhone app. It is incredibly important to continue to bring new people into BookMooch. If the membership is stagnant, then the selection of books will be stagnant too. I think the chances that new users will come to BookMooch through the iPhone app are extremely good. I would just ask that those BookMoochers who feel so bitter about John’s plans look beyond how it benefits iPhone users and see how it benefits BookMooch users as a whole. I believe the latter is the ultimate goal for the BookMooch iPhone app.

    • justelise said

      Bringing people to BookMooch could be done WITHOUT a platform specific application, or with applications specific to multiple platforms.

      • Kara said

        Yes, there are lots of ways to bring new users to BookMooch, and this is one of them. Frankly, though, this is likely to bring many more new users to BM than a multiple platform application, simply because of the success and volume of the iTunes store. While a multiple platform application sounds nice, it probably wouldn’t have the impact of the iPhone app. I understand that you are bitter about this, but I think you are completely ignoring how much this will benefit ALL BookMooch users. And why can’t John follow this up with a multi-platform app? He will own the code for this app. and that will make it easier to develop apps for other platforms I think. IMO the iPhone app IS for the greater good and doesn’t just benefit a few people.

  44. jackgoss said

    Great idea. Just a few days ago I was in a bookstore and thinking that if I just had an iphone I could be on the bookmooch site and not have to try to remember all the books I wanted. An app is an even better idea, you’re giving me excuses to get that phone sooner and sooner…

  45. Janice said

    Can’t wait! I’ve been wishing for a BM app for my iphone. I look forward to being able to respond faster to mooch requests and to mooch receipts with the iphone app – now I won’t have to wait until I can sit down at my computer!

    Thanks, John! You’re the best.

  46. James said


    i am really looking forward to this, i often wish i had an easier way to access bookmooch while on the go or without logging on to a computer.

    i know u are likely not accepting suggestions, but it would be exciting if it tied into snaptell.

    thanks again for the efforts.


    • Kara said

      Jacqui said she can’t ask for angels because she can’t access the forum, and Andrew let her know how she could locate angels off-forum. That particular complaint had nothing to do with the iPhone app and how donations are spent, and I thought it was nice of Andrew to offer her an alternative. So, while it may not address the point that this blog topic addresses, it did provide a helpful response to her specific complaint, so I don’t think it is fair to be dismissive of his response just because you have an axe to grind and wanted yet another opportunity to say you don’t like the iPhone app. We get it. You don’t like it.

      • Kara said

        P.S. This should have been a reply to the post below – I clicked the wrong button : )

  47. Jacquie said

    I’d have preferred my donation to go towards
    a) a new server as promised – it’s frustrating not to be able to log into BookMooch because connections time out; we don’t all have super-fast broadband.
    b) development to allow those of us who don’t have the “required” e-mail address to access the BookMooch forum so we could ask for Angels. It seems that fewer and fewer people are prepared to send books internationally and not being able to write to the forum means not being able to ask for an Angel.
    Is BookMooch becoming two-tier: the top tier for fast broadband users with access to the forums, users who also have iPhones, and the second for rural dwellers who will never have ultra-fast broadband and who use mobile phones as a basic communication device?

    • Andrew said

      Jacquie, you can ask for angels a couple of other ways:

      1. Send an email directly to someone on the angel listing:

      2. Post your request on the Bookmooching group on LibraryThing. You have to join LibraryThing, but it’s easy and free. There are actually more angel requests there than on the official BookMooch forum.

      • justelise said

        That’s not the point. Jacquie feels as though her donation was used to benefit a few people rather than the greater good, and that’s exactly what happened. An iPhone app only benefits a small segment of the general population of BookMooch as compared to a faster server which would benefit everyone, or a non-platform-specific mobile application which would benefit anyone who browses the web from their phone.

  48. Kirsten said

    How exciting! I’ve been looking at the iPod Touches and this is one more reason for me to buy one. I’d love to have access to my BookMooch wishlist when out and about. Thanks.

  49. Bill VonDoom said

    I think this is a great idea! Cant wait to use a Bookmooch app!

  50. wakey said

    This is awesome! I was just wondering whether or not something like this existed! I have an ipod touch, and this would totally work with my device too! Yay!

  51. Jill said

    I have an iPod Touch and I will definitely download this app. No complaints here about how my donation is used…I’ve gotten plenty of free books in return.

  52. Jeff said

    This is great news. My use of BookMooch will increase significantly with the addition of this app. I have been wanting something like this ever since I picked up an iPhone earlier this year.

  53. courtney said

    this is rad. thanks very much. i know you’re getting a lot of flack from non-iphone users, but you can’t make all the people happy all the time.

  54. Alex K said

    I have been waiting for this app for a long time. I think it will be an excellent way to get a younger crowd into bookmooch… so they can give me their books.

    More users = More donations. I think this will be a very economical way to grow bookmooch.

  55. Alex K said

    I also want to suggest that Amazon’s app does not include the number of pages in the book description, which drives me crazy since this is such a good way to determine the scope/readability of a book. So… if you could make sure to include this in the search results, I would be further enamored.

  56. Allyson Straka said

    I am VERY excited for the Bookmooch iPhone app to come out. Thanks for investing in this for us!

  57. renee said

    I do support the phone apps. If they only work on all phones. I have a touch phone and get on BM but I can’t mooch,delete or add. I have called my phone carrier and they have told me that it is the website not allowing me to do all funtions.

  58. freddlerabbit said

    I think it’s actually a good sign that many BM users don’t currently use an iPhone – if the app takes off, you’ll be hitting a market of potentially new users in a way that won’t damage the experience of your current base!

  59. Jennifer said

    Wonderful! As an admitted techie and bibliophile (and owner of an iPhone), I am very excited about this app!

    happilycoupled on BookMooch

  60. Any update on the availability of this app?? I may have missed something!

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