Handling different editions of the same book

Settling on features for Bookhype has been an interesting challenge. I was constantly asking myself, “What do people want?” or “I know people want this, should I do it?” or “But I know some people DON’T want that, so what do I do?”

One example of such a feature was supporting multiple editions of the same book. I knew right away that I wanted to support the concept of different editions, but the big struggle came with shelving. Should you be able to mark the ebook of “The Blood of Olympus” as “read”, and also have the hardcover of “The Blood of Olympus” as “currently reading”, thus effectively having two editions of the same book on your shelves? I know some people who love to differentiate between editions like that. But for me, I hate it.

On Goodreads I hate how easy it is to be “currently reading” the hardcover, then on a different device you mark the book as “read”, without realizing you actually just marked the ebook as “read”, so now you unintentionally have two editions of the same book on your shelves. It throws off your reading log records (because that ebook you marked as read now doesn’t have your start date, which was via the hardcover!) and overall shelf organization (especially if you don’t notice for days/weeks/months).

I struggled with this for weeks. I tried to weigh up my own frustrations with what I thought other people wanted. After a while, I finally realized that I can’t spend all my time trying to make everyone happy. That’s not possible and it will never work. Instead, I decided to focus on what I wanted to see on this site. The whole point of this project was to fix and remake things I was frustrated with, so why not let that guide me? It won’t make everyone happy, but hopefully there are other people out there who have similar pain points and dreams!

So with regards to editions, I laid out what I wanted:

  • Different editions of the same book are available, but grouped together in a single work.
  • If you search for a book, you’ll only see one edition of that book in search results. So if you search for “Six of Crows”, you’ll get one “Six of Crows” edition in the results. You can click through to see other editions.
  • You can add a specific edition to your shelf. So if you’ll be reading the ebook, you can specifically add the ebook. Then you’ll get the ebook cover and page numbering (if applicable).
  • However, you will never end up with duplicates on your shelves. If you start reading the ebook, then “finish” the hardcover instead, it will effectively swap your shelf preference to the hardcover. The hardcover will get the start date you’d recorded with the ebook. No duplicates. One edition per work on your shelves. But the data is perfectly synced so you never run into annoying problems of losing your start date or not logging your finish date because it was stuck with a different edition somehow.
  • When you record reading entries, each reading entry can be associated with a different edition. So you can have a log of having read the ebook, a different log of having read the hardcover, and yet another log for the audiobook. This is different from shelves though!
  • Wishlists are separate from your primary shelves. When adding a book to your wishlist, you can add multiple editions of the same book, but it will be super clear to you if you do already have a different edition on your wishlist. I specifically chose this because I’m definitely one of those people who occasionally buys the US and UK editions because they have different covers that I love equally. I wanted to be able to express my desire for both editions.
Two reading log entries - one for the hardcover and another for the ebook.

Although it seems simple, this was a really challenging thing to figure out. I spent weeks playing around with database organization (doing it, then redoing it) until I got something that I was finally very happy with. I hope you will be too!