Many of you who are book lovers use Goodreads to catalog your books, track what your friends are reading, and read reviews of books you might be interested in. There are currently 55 million Goodreads members and 1.5 billion books added to the site. I’ve been on Goodreads since 2011, and it was the “gateway drug” that got me into book reviewing and blogging.
This is kind of an update on some of the recent changes, at least the ones that I have noticed. One that started turning up in my email inbox recently was that whenever I finished a book Goodreads sends an email that shows the book, my rating, and links to my review. Not shown on the screen capture above is that it also allows me to see any friends who are reading the book, their reviews, and the reviews of other Goodreads members. It allows me to go to the Goodreads author page, even dead ones (there is one for Gerard Manley Hopkins which I can follow). It also allows me to like and comment on friends activity, and even to post a question about the book. What I discovered is that about the time Goodreads introduced this feature, I saw an uptick in likes and comments on my reviewed books, even ones I reviewed in the past. This seems like a good change that makes Goodreads more interactive.
A second change that Goodreads has begun is “Goodreads Deals” emails and “Sponsored Books” on the updates feed (on the phone app). The “deals” update is just for e-books but surprisingly does provide options (depending on the book) for Google books, Apple iBooks, Nook, and Kobo, as well as Kindle (Goodreads is owned by Amazon). It is interesting that these deals are on e-books but there seems to be no similar approach with print media even though e-books have been waning in popularity. Still, I give Goodreads credit for not promoting only Amazon.
Not so with “Sponsored Books.” Here you have options for purchasing the book in whatever format you are interested in, but only from Amazon. There are also inserts of books that are “new” or “popular” which also direct one to the Amazon site. So far, this only appears on updates on the Goodreads App, not on the website. It appears that you can indicate you are not interested in a particular “sponsored” book, but not these others, which are interspersed with friends’ updates. Rarely are any of these of interest to me. For some reason, who is reading the book often catches my eye and makes it of interest. The “recommendations” function is better, even if it often recommends books I’ve read but haven’t logged on Goodreads.
One thing with both of these changes is that they drive online purchasing, which of course is the interest of the online book seller behind this site. At least the page for each book on Goodreads offers the option of looking for the books in stores like Barnes and Noble, or through the IndieBound site at independent booksellers. One wonders if Goodreads will continue to do this in the future or direct potential buyers to their parent company more and more. This may be the point where those of us who think brick and mortar stores and local businesses are a cultural good should close our accounts. I hope it doesn’t come to that because there is so much I like about Goodreads (and, yes, I also am on LibraryThing).
One of the features I really like on the phone app is the ability to scan a book and add it to one or more of your shelves. It uses your phone’s camera and I just discovered that it not only works by scanning bar codes, but even by scanning the cover of the book. It will pop up options for your book which you can then add to your shelves. The cover scan worked on every book (a limited sample) I tested it on. This is much better than typing in a title and searching a list for your book. I only log books as I read them, but I could imagine going through my whole library in a relatively short period of time if I wanted to do this.
These are not the only changes on Goodreads. I’d be interested in what changes others who use Goodreads have seen and what you like or don’t like about them.