Reigniting Millennial Readership with Bookcase

10/05/2016 09:43 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2016

When’s the last time you picked up a book and genuinely read it for pleasure? If you’re like 52% of millennials, it’s probably been a couple years.

Now, an obvious way to combat this trend is to encourage readership by discouraging the use of technology. Perhaps that was feasible back in the days of pay-as-you-go phones and when we still watched shows on cable instead of Netflix, but now that kids as young as kindergarten are increasingly reliant on computers for even homework, trying to push technology out of lives of youth is more or less a pipe dream.

Technology has become a filter and optimizer for seemingly infinite facets of the human experience. Tinder selects who we date, Uber chooses when we arrive and Yelp tells us where to dine. While many academics have decried this encroachment of technology into the most personal aspects of our preferences, Jordan Banafsheha has found a way to leverage it to incentivize people to read.

“The days of asking a librarian or store clerk what you should read next are gone,” says Banafsheha, Founder & CEO of Bookcase App. “In a similar vein, Google and Good Reads have far too many options to give a realistic or personalized suggestion.” Instead, Banafsheha has found a way to capitalize on the simple fact that the average American is on their phone for 4.7 hours a day: Bookcase connects consumers and readers with their friends, their idols and everyone in between to help them find a read maximizing their experiences in an information-overridden world.

How does it work?

Upon opening the app, you see what some of our greatest cultural influencers are currently reading. This means that you can find insight from the exact same texts which are actively inspiring the greatest contemporary forces in business, media and politics.

In addition to being able to search through a diverse list of influencers, Bookcase acts as a social network, one in which you can *optimize** your personal experience with a book but also see what your friends are about to read.

Reading as a social network

Although technophobes have critiqued social networking for encouraging a reliance on superficial affirmation and presentation, Banafsheha has found a way to merge the unique intimate experience of reading with positive and substantive social engagement. Readers using Bookcase can coordinate their reading lists by seeing what’s in their friends’ queues. By keeping track of the chronology and thematic interests of social networks, Bookcase also encourages discussion of texts within friend circles, giving way to a conversation that extends far from the classroom.

Bookcase also awards points for completing books, promoting friendly competition among colleagues, as well as giving them a clear tracking method.

As educators and psychologists scramble to anticipate and mitigate the effects of technology on a generation that’s never existed without it, millennials are effectively stepping up to the challenge of modernizing the universal elements of literature and the arts. While Sean Parker’s creation of Napster was fairly derided at the time, Napster essentially paved the way to usher music’s profitability into the digital era. Instead of committing to methods of the past which are incompatible with a world with a 24/7 news cycle and constant online connections, we would be wise to utilize apps such as Bookcase which connect arts such as literature, as old as civilization itself, into the age of globalization.

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