Introducing Booklit: Why I made a new content publishing platform

Almost every night before bed, I read my son a book or two. He’ll pick out a couple short kid’s books from the shelf and we’ll hop into bed and read them. This is a daily part of our routine, and a small yet special moment I’m always excited to share with my little man!

With that said, I have my gripes: this collection of books take up quite a bit of space in his relatively small bedroom, and it also costs a decent amount of money to keep the collection fresh! For like, a few sentences and a handful of (albeit beautifully done) illustrations.

I recently decided that I want to start being able to quickly author and publish simple stories that I could collect over time and read to my son at night, instead of constantly having to buy new kid’s books.

I started to think about the idea a bit more, and began playing with some prototypes - ultimately settling on a hacked together iteration based on the pure-react-carousel component package from the team over at Express!

Around the same time, I found myself discussing documentation with my teammates at Tapcart, expressing my dissatisfaction of Confluence as an easily-digestible medium of simple, well-structured and relevant knowledge.

I realized that the prototype I had been working on for kid’s books could easily be adapted to support this new use case - paginated, organized content, assumed to be relatively short-form (i.e. the length of a page out of your average Dr. Seuss novel), with a heavy visual or illustrative component.

These thoughts made me wonder - what did we lose in the migration from the physical silo of a page, to the infinitely flowing stream of consciousness that is the editor textbox?

What did it do to our ability to focus and retain information when we took away the context of page, effectively uncapping the level of effort it may take to transition to the next break point, the next chapter, the next topic? A turn of the page doesn’t seem so simply achievable, when that page has infinite scrolling.

Infinite scrolling

Booklit - between a tweet and a blog post

Booklit is an attempt to create and launch a new medium of bite-sized, highly expressive content that can be easily generated, published, stored, and shared - a modern day take on the book itself, if perhaps it was invented in the year 2020.

My goal with Booklit is a content format that easily allows content creators around the world, on any device, to create high-quality works that can be saved, distributed, and regularly utilized, with just a click or two, without some expensive and outdated publishing process slowing things down, or a confusing distribution and download model that leaves people unable to self-manage.

Right now, Booklit is closed-source, but my plan is to open-source the codebase and establish a standardized Booklit file format - .bklt maybe? There is definitely a lot more work to be done to fully flush out this concept, as the current version is the result of a caffeine-fueled weekend hackathon. I used Restful to spin up a backend for the webapp to store and consume data, and was able to start creating and reading booklits within about 15 minutes after designing my data structures in Restful.

Booklit is currently designed to be mobile-first, with support for larger devices, built around a sliding drag-based carousel of pages as demonstrated above (see more by searching all published booklits here). Also, pages in Booklit support Markdown syntax - the plan is to migrate this to a more visual, editor-based studio experience.

The possibilities are limitless with what can be written, documented, and produced with Booklit - from personal collections of experiences and journaling, to product and technical documentation distributed to teams or customers.

Check out the Booklit Studio to quickly create a new Booklit, and create a free account to publish it live with a single click.

Booklit Studio

Have a feature request you’d like to make for Booklit? Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email with details! I’ll be sure to get back to you as quickly as possible.

I hope you find enjoyment with Booklit - I’m greatly looking forward to the stories told, and the knowledge shared.

Cover photo by Green Chameleon