BookWyrm uses the ActivityPub protocol to send and receive user activity between other BookWyrm instances and other services that implement ActivityPub, like Mastodon. To handle book data, BookWyrm has a handful of extended Activity types which are not part of the standard, but are legible to other BookWyrm instances.

Activities and Objects

Users and relationships

User relationship interactions follow the standard ActivityPub spec.

  • Follow: request to receive statuses from a user, and view their statuses that have followers-only privacy
  • Accept: approves a Follow and finalizes the relationship
  • Reject: denies a Follow
  • Block: prevent users from seeing one another's statuses, and prevents the blocked user from viewing the actor's profile
  • Update: updates a user's profile and settings
  • Delete: deactivates a user
  • Undo: reverses a Follow or Block


Object types

  • Note: On services like Mastodon, Notes are the primary type of status. They contain a message body, attachments, can mention users, and be replies to statuses of any type. Within BookWyrm, Notes can only be created as direct messages or as replies to other statuses.
  • Review: A review is a status in response to a book (indicated by the inReplyToBook field), which has a title, body, and numerical rating between 0 (not rated) and 5.
  • Comment: A comment on a book mentions a book and has a message body.
  • Quotation: A quote has a message body, an excerpt from a book, and mentions a book.


  • Create: saves a new status in the database.

Note: BookWyrm only accepts Create activities if they are:

  • Direct messages (i.e., Notes with the privacy level direct, which mention a local user),
  • Related to a book (of a custom status type that includes the field inReplyToBook),
  • Replies to existing statuses saved in the database
  • Delete: Removes a status
  • Like: Creates a favorite on the status
  • Announce: Boosts the status into the actor's timeline
  • Undo: Reverses a Like or Announce


User's books and lists are represented by OrderedCollection


  • Shelf: A user's book collection. By default, every user has a to-read, reading, and read shelf which are used to track reading progress.
  • List: A collection of books that may have items contributed by users other than the one who created the list.


  • Create: Adds a shelf or list to the database.
  • Delete: Removes a shelf or list.
  • Add: Adds a book to a shelf or list.
  • Remove: Removes a book from a shelf or list.

Alternative Serialization

Because BookWyrm uses custom object types (Review, Comment, Quotation) that aren't supported by ActivityPub, statuses are transformed into standard types when sent to or viewed by non-BookWyrm services. Reviews are converted into Articles, and Comments and Quotations are converted into Notes, with a link to the book and the cover image attached.