Dear FictFact Users,
Did you know that FictFact is a completely self-funded website? We started FictFact in 2009 to help readers keep track of their series. I am an avid fiction series reader and could not find a website that did what I wanted. Since I am a web developer, I set off to build a site for myself. It turns out, lots of people found this site useful as well! We have grown over the years, and now need a little help from you. Please help us by making a donation through PayPal.
What would we do with these donations?
For starters, we need to make sure the servers are kept up and running. We want to provide the best experience possible with faster servers, unfortunately, these are not cheap. We would use donations to maintain the day to day costs of keeping the website going.
Right now, we have 3 volunteers who work on this in our spare time. Features, improvements, mobile apps, etc. are not really realistic in the few extra hours we have during the week. We would love to have at least one full time employee.
“Do you have a mobile app?” One of our most popular requests is to create a dedicated mobile app. With enough donations, we can start working on one! We also have a long, long list of things we want to add or improve. This includes printing, exporting series data, better communication between users, smarter recommendations… and on and on.
Get a Sticker!!
Everybody who donates at least $10 (or $15 internationally) will get one of our awesome stickers! They’re made from an industrial strength vinyl that’s designed to last. And, they come with a UV laminate that makes them fade, scratch and water resistant. We will mail a sticker to the address you use on the PayPal form.
Can’t donate? That’s OK… we have a few other ways you can help us out. One good way: shop on Amazon. We get about 8% of the revenue of all purchases made through our affiliate links to Amazon!
Thank you for all your support,
CEO of FictFact
We are hard at work on a brand new design for FictFact. We are improving the look and making things easier. Let us know what you think!
- Main navigation is moving to top to allow for more content on the page
- We are using Twitter’s Bootstrap to keep the design clean and modern
- Adding better information about your books and series throughout the site (such as ratings and book ownership)
- Improving search
- And much more…
Follow us on Facebook to keep up with all the news and announcements about this redesign.
Here are a few preview images (still a work in progress :))
Book Release Calendar Listing:
Looking for a new book series? How about getting recommendations from based on our thousands of users? Then head to BookSeries.co, the book series discovery engine is for you! Just let us know a book series you like and will give you a list of recommended series based on our recommendation engine’s secret sauce.
Check it out at BookSeries.co
Fill out the following form and we’ll let you know when the beta will be available - Beta Test Form
We have been working hard on creating a mobile version of the website. You will be able to access this from any web enabled device. We plan to launch the site in Spring 2012.
You can join the conversation about the new site on our discussion board.
Here is a small preview of what we have planned.
When we launched the “Next Book” list we knew people would love how easy it is to know exactly what book you need to read next. Many users have asked if there was a way to make it even easier to make a series they are following #1 on their “Next Book” list. Well here it is!
Just visit any of the series you’re following. There’s now a new icon on the series page for moving that series to the top of your “Next Book” list.
Just click the icon and you should get a notification telling you the series has been moved to the top of the list.
It’s that easy!
Around the FictFact office we’ve become big fans of Google’s Chrome web browser. As we continue to add authors based on our awesome user suggestions, we realized we’d love a tool so we can easily search FictFact for authors we come across on the web. So we went ahead an made one! If your a fan of Google Chrome, go ahead and install our new extension for searching FictFact from any page!
FictFact Search Menu
When we launched FictFact we hoped that it would not only help people keep track of their favorite series but also help them discover new series to read.
For a while now, we’ve had a “Recommend Series” section on every series page, so users can check out what other users are interested in. The recommendations are based on what users follow and if you’re logged in, filter out series your currently following.
Today we’ve taken the step to make those recommendations smarter. When you’re logged into FictFact, you will now see a “Not Interested” button next to each recommendation. Just click that button for each series you’re “Not Interested” in and that series won’t appear again.
You’ll be helping make our recommendation engine smarter and hopefully will help us help you find more series to read.
@bkirsten and the FictFact team
This is inspired by Ravelry’s and Stack Exchange’s bullet point architecture details. We’ve seen a whole lot of growth in the last 6 months over at FictFact, and we’ve recently rebuilt a large portion of the site from the ground up which has allowed us to spread load across more (but cheaper) machines.
FictFact is a book series tracking site that is primarily built on Microsoft’s ASP.NET and SQL Server. Without the kind folks at BizSpark we probably couldn’t afford the licensing for either one of those so we thank them for their support.
- 300,000+ Page Views per Month
- 18,000 Uniques per Month
- All of FictFact is currently hosted in Amazon EC2 (their East location)
- Amazon S3 is used for backup and for serving static files (images)
- Amazon ELB is used for Load Balancing
Production Servers (Amazon EC2)
- 3 Web Servers (Windows 2008 Server / IIS / ASP.NET 4.0 / Small Instances)
- 1 Database Server (SQL Server 2008 / Large Instance)
- 1 Solr Server (Amazon Linux / Solr / Small Instance)
We recently moved from a large web server to several small after our code rebuild. We’ve also discovered the huge cost differences in buying Amazon reserved instances (it’s more than halved our monthly cost), so if you’re planning on running a project for at least a year and you’ve got the upfront capital I would recommend doing it. Worst case is that if you end up growing you can use those reserved instance for something else.
We do realize that we are over compensating for our traffic, we could run on two small web server instances but we run a third to run backend applications written in C#. The third web server does handle some of our traffic, but we’d love if Amazon ELB had more control on what traffic goes to who. Most likely we will move to something like HAProxy for future load balancing.
Software and Technologies Used
- C# / .NET
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008
- Amazon Linux
- Solr Lucene for search
- Postmark for email sending
- MailChimp for monthly bulk emails
- PHP for scripting
- Python for background jobs
- SVN for source control
- Amazon S3 for backup and static content
Development and the Future
Most of our development is done in Visual Studio 2010 (thanks again Bizspark), although obviously things like shell scripting, php and python development is usually done in Textmate. There are only two of us (out of a three person team) doing development, so that’s why the operational decision of doing everything in Amazon was decided. When the site REALLY REALLY takes off we can see how cost effective it would be to move to physical hardware at a NOC, but for the time being Amazon is working fine (knock on wood).
We are currently experimenting with queueing with ActiveMQ and Python for some of our “heavier” processes, plus we are looking into using Amazon Map Reduce for making the recommendation engine a bit smarter as well as for generating better reporting.
Although we have looked at using Amazon’s Database offerings we’ve decided to stick with more of a “go with what you know approach” as far as the database is concerned. We are looking in things like Scribe for logging which will be useful for reporting purposes.
And for those who are asking “Why not Microsoft Azure?”, it simply doesn’t offer the flexibility we are getting with Amazon. The major deterrent was it’s lack of ability to run Solr which was tremendously easy to implement and the cornerstone for a whole lot of what we do.
Questions/Comments can be made here or at FictFact’s GetSatisfaction page.