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HarperCollins (s NWS) has launched Epic Reads, a digital community designed to connect readers with HarperTeen authors and books. Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, calls the network “the natural evolution of our teen digital strategy.”
Epic Reads has three channels: the main epicreads.com; pitchdark.com, “featuring a curated list of titles that appeal to readers of dystopian and paranormal fiction”; and storycrush.com, which focuses on the “romance, realistic and contemporary fiction genre.”
Users can sign in with their Facebook (s FB) or Google (s GOOG) log-ins, take polls and quizzes and enter sweepstakes, upload content, and chat in forums and with authors. They can share site content on social networks. HarperTeen authors get their own pages — barebones for now — that they can enhance with extras like social media links and photos.
Earlier this year, HarperCollins sold its teen writing site, Inkpop, to competitor Figment. “We’re really a business focused on readers,” Katz told the WSJ at the time, “and there are many more readers out there than there are writers.” This is HarperCollins’ attempt to connect with them.
For now, a lot of the graphics on the site are reminiscent of a teen magazine from the 90s, some content is scant and I’m surprised not to see more book giveaways or book-related promotions. More critically, the featured books don’t include buy links — you can share them a million ways but as far as I can tell the site doesn’t link out to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other retailers for purchase. You also can’t check to see if a book is available in your local library.
Epic Reads plans to add “integration of Facebook OpenGraph and Goodreads APIs, enhanced mobile features, and a social reading app.”