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The Current State and Future of Goodreads

7 November 2019

From Book Riot:

I’ve always been a numbers gal. Don’t get me wrong, I was never a math whiz, but I can’t resist creating lists and following my progress in a numerical fashion. Even as a slow reader, I get a kick out of tracking the books I read throughout the year on Goodreads. It’s a helpful motivator, and it’s the ideal way to refresh my abysmal memory when asked about my recent favorite reads. I rarely know off the top of my head, and my Goodreads list is always there to save me.

Goodreads was born a little over a decade ago, in December 2006. Soon after its launch, the site’s membership grew exponentially. It quickly racked up over half a million users by the end of 2007. User numbers kept on growing, and the popular site for book readers caught the eye of Amazon in 2013. At the time, readers (and writers) were wary of the purchase, though some did feel positive about the move.

. . . .

Fast forward to early 2019. Goodreads now has a companion smartphone app, but the site still looks much the same as it once did. Otis Chandler and Elizabeth, Khuri Chandler, the founders of the site, stepped down as CEO and Editor-in-Chief earlier this year and Veronica Moss—previously the Revenue & Operations Officer for Goodreads—took over as CEO.

. . . .

I was interested in finding out whether there was a future for a platform that feels so outdated and archaic in terms of design and functionality, so I set about to speak to users to hear out about their thoughts and experiences. I also got in touch with Goodreads to inquire about future plans for the site.

. . . .

There are no two ways around it, Goodreads is due for an update. The website needs a visual refresh—the color palette and design feel incredibly outdated. I almost feel nostalgic when I logon because it feels like a website I might have perused in the early 2000s as a kid in computer class. And that’s because that’s what it is. The site has changed minimally over the years. Books are added every day to the platform, but the shell hasn’t grown or evolved as quickly as its user base.

. . . .

I asked fellow readers and members of two online book clubs about their Goodreads experiences via social media. In the end, I received the opinions and observations of nearly a hundred readers who all echoed similar complaints but who were also often vehement about their love of the platform.

. . . .

It’s surprising that a platform owned by Amazon has such terrible search functionality. If you’re only vaguely certain of the book title, you’re looking for? Good luck.

Search is a joke. You have to type in the whole title in its entirety and even then it’s not usually one of the top results. Or when you’re searching and as you type more letters of the title to be more specific, the book you’re looking for disappears from the drop down options. —Laurel Kenneweg, a Goodreads user who has used the platform for at least nine years

. . . .

“I hate the app but love the website”
. . . .

Oddly, Goodreads fails miserably when it comes to integrating with services like Audible and Amazon. The Kindle integration is pretty stellar, but readers told me that they find it strange that there’s seemingly very little feedback going on between Amazon and Goodreads. Book recommendations on Amazon don’t seem to line up with a user’s Goodreads activity, for example.

. . . .

The groups function of Goodreads is incredibly retro. The message board–like area of the site where people can chat with like-minded readers needs an update of its own. For a site that focuses a lot on the social aspect of reading, it makes it markedly difficult to engage with other readers.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

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8 Comments to “The Current State and Future of Goodreads”

  1. “… who all echoed similar complaints but who were also often vehement about their love of the platform.”

    So maybe it’s not so bad if it’s not making them decide to go to another site?

    I think I’d visit TPV less often if it got all flashy and ‘updated’, as it is it does what it does just fine to me.

    Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits [and websites!]. — Mark Twain, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”

  2. And slow loading. Average of seven seconds for a page to load on every click within the site.

  3. Richard Hershberger

    “It’s surprising that a platform owned by Amazon has such terrible search functionality.”

    I don’t know why this is surprising. The search function on Amazon’s main site sucks, too.

    Edit: Or rather, it is surprising that Amazon can’t figure out how to implement a good search function, but it would be even more surprising if they managed it on Goodreads but not their main site.

  4. I’d be afraid any updates would break Available Reads and Library Extension, two Chrome add-ons I absolutely love.

    Does LibraryThing still limit free accounts to 250 items? I know I paid for an account back in the day because of some kind of limitation, but wandered away from the site simply because I liked GoodReads more.

    And, FWIW, not every site refresh, update, whatever is a positive. Reddit’s newest version is horrible. I never use it, and most people on the boards I frequent seem to think as I do.

  5. I like GoodReads as it is, not as much for its social aspect but as a tool. It helps me keep track of my reading. It is also very convenient when I want to know about any book new to me. I read reviews to figure out if I want to read it or not. I like the clear structure of its pages. I would be very leery of an update.

  6. Super clunky site. Needs a major overhaul.

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