FAQ and Help For Books Page

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The Books page came into being and evolved due the interest in books and reading by two of the founding members of Topogrouo.com - Viren Goyal and Harsh Pande. Harsh has been interested in reading throughout his life. His interest in reading English books got a big boost while in Roorkee. Viren got into reading seriously after his retirement and is now is a very active reader.

We decided to keep a permanent and accessible record of the books we read. Thus the Topogroup Books Database was born and to show the useful info about these books we created a set of pages in our Topogroup website.

The primary purpose is really to have a personal record of the books we have read regardless of whether these books are of any interest to others. Reading is a personal choice like food or movies. We all have different tastes. The "Sharing" aspect evolved much later. Let me just share with the personal use of the website:

Viren Goyal called Harsh one day in Lucknow. He said, "Harshu, I am in my library in Gurgaon. Can you please lookup in the Topogroup site which books of Ken Follet I have read?". Harsh was already using his laptop. So he looked up www.topogroup.com and found out which Ken Follet books Viren had read. He gave Viren these names over the phone. This enabled Viren to get the books by Ken Follet that he had NOT read.

In USA, almost every library has workstations and terminals that you can use to access Internet. I (Harsh) use this when I am in the library and am not sure which book I should get. I go to www.topogroup.com and check out the books that Viren, Sunil and others have read and rated Four Stars +. I have read many books by using this process.

The Book section's Home Page which can be accessed by going to the Topogroup Website and clicking "Books" link in the top Menu Bar. It has five actionable links. What they do and mean is described below:

1. Show Full Book List: This is like a spreadsheet listing of all books in our database. The order is the most recently added book first. The data contains: Book Name (Title), Author's Name (Both First and Last), The Contributor (Topogroup Member), Type of book (Fiction/Non Fiction and other classifications), Year of Publication, No. of Pages and the Rating (stars). There is a column with a link that shows "Show". If you click it, it shows a detailed Review of that book by the Contributor. This is a very interesting part because here we express freely what we think about that book. This is also where the "Sharing" aspect comes into play. Rather that saying too much, please check out this and see a few of the reviews yourself. By the Way, this list can be narrowed by the books contributed by just one of the members.

2. Search Books in Topogroup Book Database: When it comes to fiction books especially, we don't remember if we have read a book before or not. Let us assume that you see a book named "A Matter of Honour" by Jeffery Archer. You are not sure if you have read it or not. So, you can use this link to find out the answer. There are three fields to enter:

2.1 You select your name from the Dropdown list

2.2 You specify whether you want to select by Author's Last Name (Archer in this case) or by some word in the title of the book (matter or honour).

2.3 Then you enter "archer" in the Value field if you are searching by Author OR "matter" if you are searching by the Title.

2.4 Then you click the Button GO. If this book exists in the database for the person you chose, it will show up in the Search Results.

3. Add New Book Review - I hope that it is clear what it means. Does it need any explanation?

4. Show Books Wish List and Queue for all - This idea came from Amazon.com and Netflix. When you look for something in Amazon.com and see the search results, you may find many products. Let us say that I am looking for a gift for my grand niece. They may show 100's of products. I may like a few of them. But I am not going to buy them right away. They have an option: "ADD TO WISH LIST". You click a button and it is added to your Wish List. I may add 5-6 items to my Wish List and then show the Wish List to my wife and ask her what she likes from that list.

We use Netflix for movies. We select some movies that we like and add them to our Movie Queue. Our Movie Queue sometimes is 1 to 20 items long. They ship the DVD from the top position. I can change the order of the items in the Queue.

Same for our Books Wish List and Queue - may be my choice of the words is confusing. But the idea is the same. I hear about a book from someone. I think that I may want to read it. But, I am reading a book at the moment. So, I add it to my Wish List and read it when I want or not read it at all. It is one place on the website that I can find, not in a notebook which I may misplace. When I go to library next time, I can check my Wish list and don't have to scratch my head about what to read next.

I think Viren and Harsh are using this feature effectively.

5. Create a Printable List: This was done per request by Viren Goyal. He wanted to have a compact book list that he can print out and keep with him and take it to the library with him. Please click the link on the Book Main Page and see the list yourself. You have to select a name from the Dropdown box.

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