Made by One

A series of interviews with solo creators

Q: What is 7bks?

A: The tagline is "Playlists for bookworms". At the moment it's a fairly simple and easy to use site that lets anyone create a booklist that looks great. In the fullness of time I'd like to build a full book community around the site.

Q: When did you have the idea for 7bks?

A: You can see some of the background and 'making of' details here

I had the initial idea for the site on 10/10/10 (!) and built Version 1 in 4 weeks. That included learning how to code from scratch! V2 has just shipped and looks much better :)

I've had plenty of ideas in the past but I think I finally decided to do this one because of a chance combination of the idea being simple enough, appengine being available and I'd just finished doing an Open University course so had some "spare time" on my hands. That's in quotes because my spare time is fitted in around a demanding full time job and plenty of other hobbies!

Q: How long did it take to build 7bks? Would a team have changed that?

A: I've got no idea what I'd do with a team. Make the site work in IE maybe?! Took me 4 weeks to ship V1, another maybe 6 weeks (of less intense work) to ship V2.

Q: How long has the site been live? How is it doing?

A: Been live since 10/11/10 - doing really well thanks! So far about 800 books, 400 lists and 300 users have used the site. Of course, a lot of those are just people from HN curious to try out the site inputting dummy lists like "books test" but still, now with V2 live I'm starting to see a lot more genuine and awesome lists created like this for example: http://www.7bks.com/list/588003

Q: What did you use to make your web site?

A:
Moleskine (for the idea!)
Appengine (for the sysadmin)
Python (for the magic)
Blueprint CSS (for the pretty)
Jquery (for the black magic!)

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

A: I work for Distilled full time as head of search there. I don't really have a background in development but I find my day-job skills are very useful for building sites because I have a really good understanding of usability and how people interact with websites.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share?

A: Yes. Firstly, learn something new. All the time. Learning new things is awesome. They're hard work at first but once you get the hang of it you can do things you never dreamed of. Secondly, don't underestimate front-end design work! That's some hard stuff to get right. Thirdly, get a mentor. A mentor can really help point you in the right direction, tell you what to learn next and fix code for you :) I don't have a mentor but this is what I'd love a mentor to do for me!

Q: If our users would like to contact you, what is the best way?

A: If anyone wants to connect I'm always willing to chat. My contact details are here: 7bks.com/contact or you can connect with me on twitter: twitter.com/tomcritchlow. And finally, if you're in London let's meet for coffee!

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