The OTHER Broken Website

(Cautionary note: grumpiness ahead.)

With all the hoo-hah over the problems with the ACA's healthcare.gov website, the problems with another important website seem to have gotten little attention.  I'm talking about the "re-design" of the Science Fiction Book Club's website that was introduced several months ago.

(I call the SFBC site "important" because I've been a member of SFBC for over forty years, have bought probably a literal truckload of books from them over those decades, and it's been the source of a lot of books I and/or Hilde have enjoyed reading.  So, yeah, "important".)

Besides the general uglification of the website (what is it with the trend in the last few years to make webpages have more whitespace, use larger fonts and fewer words, make images bigger, and for some reason usually make the pages load or refresh more slowly?), there are a number of problems with the new design that range from annoying to crippling.  I made a list:
  • Items on your old wishlist no longer show price information.
  • The old wishlist items are still there, but the old "Add To Wishlist" buttons are missing.  You can't add anything to your wishlist, and if you remove an item from the wishlist, you can't put it back on.  The "Move To Wishlist" buttons on shopping cart selections have also gone walkabout.
  • When you try to browse selections, the new website sends you to a page where you have to pick and choose between various categories.  There's no "Browse All" option to look at their complete list.
  • When you do choose a category to browse, a lot of items not in that category are included in the results.  And not even necessarily in the sf/fantasy genre at all; a lot of general-history and military-history books show up in SFBC's results.
  • When you try to sort listings by "Author Name", it sorts them by the author's first name.
  • When you try to sort by "Release Date", it lists the oldest books first.
That list comes from the first time I tried the new website, in late September.  The list had one other problem -- book listings didn't link to an author's name or other books -- that actually seems to have been fixed.  Everything else on the list is still a problem when I tried using the site again several times in the past several days.

The site now seems to have an even bigger problem, one that makes it unusable for me:  Every time a webpage changes, it cancels my sign-in.  I literally have to sign-in again on every damned page.  The frustration level is so high when I try to browse offerings, or add books to the shopping cart, or God forbid actually try to checkout and give them my money, I just give up from exhaustion before I can complete a purchase.

(I was able to actually add books to the shopping cart, finally, by using my smartphone rather than the desktop computer.  So the new website works with an Android OS, but not with Windows?  But I don't like sending payments over the phone, and haven't been able to get that far with the desktop.)

The re-design went into effect a few months ago.  Are these problems affecting all SFBC members, or are they just particular to me?  Because if the problems are hindering a lot of members, I kind of expected to hear someone else's howls of outrage before now.

Or are old-fashioned hardcopy book clubs becoming passé, and frustrated members are just shifting their shopping to new-fangled, and frequently less expensive, ebooks rather than bothering to complain about the SFBC's problems?

(These same problems also seem to apply to SFBC's sister website for Quality Paperback Book Club, where I've also been a long-time member.)

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