GuruLib Creators Solicit Feedback: David Obliges (to the Chagrin of All)

(updated 7/20/2006: see bolded text at bottom of post) 

The problem with asking for my opinion is that you'll always get it.  Anyway:

The co-creator of GuruLib, Rana Basheer, left a comment in response to my post about GuruLib in which he solicited further comments about GuruLib.  How extremely cool is that?

Mr. Basheer, these are just off the top of my head.

Problems I see with GuruLib:

  • It isn't at all clear how to use the "Borrowed Items" function.  This may just be a problem of missing documentation, but if the interface doesn't reveal by playing with it how it is to be used, it needs further development.
  • One should be able to click an item on the shelf and mark it to be borrowed.  Marking it as to be borrowed should bring the user to a screen where the user can enter in the details of the borrower's name, phone number, and expected return date.
  • It makes sense to have some ads, but having both the amazon.com ads AND the google adsense is sort of intrusive. Suggest that GuruLib use banner ads and/or context ads, but not both.  Also, the roll-over pop-up ads are unpleasant.  If they offered something more than just commerce, perhaps they'd be less so.

Features I'd love to see developed to expand GuruLib's usefulness:

  • Borrow a good idea from Librarything and make the site more social by allowing users to find other users with the same particular item, or to find other users with multiple shared items.
  • Add RSS feeds.  I have friends with great taste in books, films, and music.  I'd love for them to be able to provide a feed (that they can shoose to share publically, or to share only by invitation to particular friends) to let me know when something new has been added to their shelf (or shelves), and also see any tags, notes, or reviews thay may have added to the item.
  • How about being able to look up a movie from the shelf at IMDB with a single click.
  • I'd love to have a Firefox Greasemonkey user script (or full extension) that lets me click from IMDB, Netflix, or Amazon to add to my shelf at GuruLib.  Such scripts exist to link IMDB with NetFlix, so this should be not too difficult.
  • How about the ability to click on an item on someone else's shelf to automatically add the item to one's own shelf, one's Amazon wishlist or one's NetFlix queue?
  • How about a button (or context menu) for my browser that lets me "add this to my GuruLib shelf" from an item page at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, NetFlix, etc.?

Kudos to Mr. Basheer and his spouse, by the way, for developing a nifty new tool on their own.  I like stories of independent developers building neat stuff without corporate support.  Here's hoping it continues to evolve and improve!

Anyone else have thoughts or insights we can share with the creators of GuruLib?

Update, 7/20/2006: I have received a very nice email from the Basheers:

Thank you David Rothman for the patience. I agree with you that borrow item option is outrignt confusing. I will try to provide an option for the owner to set a book as borrowed as you suggested. My current implementation is the reverse way. That is, If a person wants a book from his friend he clicks on the borrow item link in his friends library to send a request to his friend to borrow the book. The friend will receive an email and he will then set the number of days the person can borrow his item.
I understand that is unnecessarily complicated. I will try to make it simpler. I really appreciate your suggestions for improvement. I will get to it one by one.
Thanks and Regards
Rana Basheer

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