I am glad I have been blessed by the SFU professor gods to review Oceanside Reads’ marketability. Not because I am an expert in understanding subtle design choices and algorithm manipulation (I think I made that up), but because I love to read books and I understand the culture of book readers somewhat!
Already, the background strikes me first. The colours are very muted and relaxed. It is an incredibly peaceful image. I am then drawn towards the subtitle “Beaches, Books, and Bitching” and that already shows a lack of book snobbiness, which is great. I love it when people can talk about reading, but solely talk about the content of the book without drawing attention to the fact that they read. Nothing on this website suggests condescension, which I think is great, because I believe this site is very much meant to welcome the casual reader. Much like how I intend my site to be a place where people learn, I think this site is incredibly inviting with the “What to Read Next” page. The background imagery evokes the feeling of beachside relaxation, so that comforting, engrossing feeling is one I believe has been met. This is incredibly corny, but during the first critical 5 seconds of gazing at this page, I could hear the sound of waves on the seashore in the background. I believe Cassidy is set in a very distinct aesthetic that appeals to many people by connoting pleasant imagery.
What I like about this site, is that there is a definite niche, and that niche is very much satisfied. Cassidy has identified what she wished to write about at the beginning of the semester, and she has completely ran with it. I appreciate the confidence to run with passions, and I believe it is exuded in Cassidy’s writing. I do not see many sites discussing more recent novels such as “All the Light We Cannot See”, and that is refreshing. I think there is a new booming generation of Younger Readers who may want to have a second opinion on a product. Ye Olden Literature like Heart of Darkness and Mrs. Dalloway have been analyzed to death. But what of newer writers trying to make a name for themselves? Richard Nash’s article discusses literature’s inherent purpose, and I believe what allows writing to impact society are the individuals who invite others into its Public Sphere. I hear it all the time: “Who has time to read? I don’t have the attention span! It takes so long to finish a book!” Well, I believe Cassidy’s site can work as a stepping stone for unconfident individuals. One cannot expect a 12-year-old who has never read for pleasure to dive right into Ulysses for enjoyment. That’s why literature needs sites like Cassidy’s that are not condescending about books, but rather, inviting. Cassidy exudes confidence and, while she is welcoming to eager readers, she is still passionate and focused on her content. A delicate balance is struck between marketability and passion.
Although the design is very casual, I also enjoy how organized the site’s content is. A feature I wish I understood was how to separate PUB 101 content from my regular content. It keeps her primary content the center of attention always. Readers on Cassidy’s site are able to immersed in her content without the juxtaposition between University content and her regular content. I also like how her posts are written, and her content is about the written word, so audiences are used to it. Her posts market themselves, as avid readers know the power of the written word, and those that are eager to read probably don’t mind a few hundred words. Although I initially thought Cassidy’s posts were kind of long, I kind of realized they are the perfect length. Readers who endure thousands upon thousands of words see this as a breezy, enjoyable review, and those who do not read often see it as a welcome challenge. Cassidy’s posts say exactly as much as they need to to be a summative review.
If I had to make a few suggestions, I would recommend making posts that are more analytical about Cassidy’s favourite books. This may be my projections on another person’s content, but if Cassidy has a book that truly means something to her, I think it is an opportunity for passionate content! It doesn’t have to be about “high literature art,” it could just be about something that means a lot to her. It could add another aspect of her site aside from light, casual reviews. I’m only suggesting to include thise if she wants to, I’m not saying “I AM THE ARBITER OF CONTENT ON THE INTERNET, DO AS I SAY,” because I like Cassidy’s site. She has identified her audience, and she is appealing to it.
Another potential improvement Cassidy could make are “in-progress” posts. This is content that provides initial impressions of reading novels for the first time. This content does not need to be the bulk of her content, but it could put her site in favour of Google algorithms. A more regular post schedule means that her audience comes back more frequently, and if they come back more often, that means that Google’s robot overlords will say to themselves “hey this book site is pretty dope”, and Search Engines will favour her. It’s a good thing for the business side. But it can also be beneficial to fill in the wait time for readers looking for her main posts. With University being incredibly taxing on time, these smaller, “first impressions”, or “story so far” posts can provide content when caught in tumultuous times.
Overall, I love Cassidy’s site, as evidenced by my endless gushing. I think she has a clear focus, and she has been running with it since she started. The theme and imagery on her site evoke the relaxation of the beach and invites me into her content. Cassidy is confident in her craft, and it shows in her writing style. I believe Cassidy has a fantastic product, and I would love to see more of it!