Thinking…… about Goodreads.

January 7, 2013 Uncategorized 7

 Warning Blunt Honesty Ahead. Also Opinions. 

So the other day I was perusing (is that a word? I used it and there is not a red dotted line so let’s roll with it, shall we)….yes, yes, I was perusing the wonderful site Goodreads and I happened across a minor scuffle on a fellow users review. Actually, it’s one I see all the time. It made me question what the real purpose of the site is, and how I think, authors, and bloggers/reviewers use the site differently than an average Joe Reader would.

The purpose of Goodreads according to Goodreads:

“What Is Goodreads?
Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. We have more than 13,000,000 members who have added more than 440,000,000 books to their shelves. A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more. Goodreads was launched in January 2007. 
Our Mission
Goodreads’ mission is to help people find and share books they love. Along the way, we plan to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.
Why We Do It
Every once in a while you run into a friend who tells you about this “great new book I’m reading.” And suddenly you’re excited to read it. It’s that kind of excitement that Goodreads is all about. 
How We Do It
Most book recommendation websites work by listing random people’s reviews. On Goodreads, when a person adds a book to the site, all their friends can see what they thought of it. It’s common sense. People are more likely to get excited about a book their friend recommends than a suggestion from a stranger. We even created an amazing algorithm that looks at your books and ratings, and helps you find other books based on what fellow Goodreads members with similar tastes enjoyed. Ultimately, it’s all based on our foundation of true-blue readers. Our members also create trivia about books, lists of the best books, post their own writing and form groups and book clubs.”
Is this how you use Goodreads? Your answer may just depend on several factors:
Are you an author?
Are you a reviewer/blogger?
Are you just a reader looking for great books?

-For an author the purpose of Goodreads is to spread the word about their book, have reviews posted about their book and interact with the fans. The last one is probably the most controversial and hot button issue for authors on Goodreads. There are an over abundance of opinions about what proper Goodreads etiquette is for an author. And those opinions are like a$$holes everyone has one, and they are all different. The best bet for an author to is to use Goodreads “with a grain of salt”. Don’t overthink it. Put your book on there. Read the awesome reviews, meet fans, and rate books that you have read. The rest just gets messy and murky. <---and that is my opinion. -For a book reviewer/blogger our use of Goodreads is much different. At least mine is. I can’t speak for every blogger but this is how I use Goodreads.
Keep track of what I  have read, and to see what my peers are reading. “B*tch gets awesome ARC’s I’m Jelly”.
For book covers, blurbs and to seek other reviews on potential review books.
Rate and write my reviews on the site.
Links for others to find the book to add to their reading list.
Author bios, website links, and photos.
Recommend books and authors that I really LOVE to my friends that I think will like them.
What I do not do:
I do not under any circumstances tell someone they review wrong, or that their review is wrong. I’ve only had this happen to me once. I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t respond. Because I am smart enough to realize that book reviews are subjective and opinion. Not fact.
I do not bash authors or other reviewers.
I do not recommend books (using the recommend feature) to every single person on my friends list. For the love of all that is good that is NOT the purpose of that feature. Please, please.please stop spamming me with books recommendations. This is NOT an promotional feature on the site. Just because it CAN be used that way doesn’t mean it SHOULD be. Just because I CAN wipe my arse with leaves doesn’t mean I SHOULD, right?
If you think I will like a book then please tell me, but do not do it en masse with everyone else on your friend list. I get so many of these that I do not take them seriously anymore. It’s actually starting to have the reverse effect on me. I cringe when I see them. I don’t look at them. I just accept them to get them off of my notifications.

-For an “average reader” the world of Goodreads is a playground of whatever. It’s like Facebook for books. There are NO real rules…ok so there are rules, but for the most part an “average reader” will probably never need to worry about them.
These people are not book bloggers, they probably don’t stalk Ren, Parajunkee, the BB, Fiktshun, or any other blogger.

They do not know about the author vs reviewer wars that have happened in yesteryears. (Or 2012.)

They do not know how sensitive book bloggers are about our reviews.
It’s time some of us stopped telling authors to grow thick skin, and swallow our own advice. Having your review and your person attacked is NOT fun, trust me. But do not lash out at people just like those “badly behaving authors.” /Rant (for now).

They literally think that the comment feature on a review is to be used to have open discussion about the merits or failings of a book. (Silly creatures).
……………………………………………………………………..Wait. Wait. Wait. Isn’t that what the WHOLE point of Goodreads is? In the last year I think a lot of us have lost focus on what the POINT of Goodreads is. Or maybe it’s just me.
It’s NOT a tool to market your book (although it CAN be).
It’s NOT a tool to make your blog look fancy with “that there book cover” and blurb (although it CAN be).

Goodreads’ mission is to help people find and share books they love. 

That’s it. That is the total purpose of Goodreads. 
If we don’t allow others to comment on our reviews voicing their thoughts on the book then how do we have DISCUSSION about the book? How do we learn about other ways of seeing the characters and the world of books? 

Your Goodreads experience is what you make of it. You have every right to decide how you want to interact with it and other users. But don’t be upset when not everyone knows your rules. There are people on there that don’t know about this other side of the book world. 
Tolerance is something that I admire in people and it’s something I strive for everyday. Whether it’s stupid people at the store, or the toddlers throwing food around my house, or having an open mind about the world around me. It’s a good thing to strive for and it’s how I approach my Goodreads. 
Am I guilty of playing the “DON’T comment on my review if you don’t having anything nice to say mentality”?
Yes, yes I am. But not anymore. 

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I'm a mother, and I love reading. What else is there to know?

Latest posts by Lori (see all)

  • Great post Lori that really has me thinking.

    As a reader, I adore Goodreads. I’ve found a lot of books there that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I belong to a few groups, and I really like participating in monthly reads and the conversations about monthly books. I just wish I had time to do more of these.

    As an author however, Goodreads terrifies me. I am constantly afraid to comment on anything, especially reviews, because I am afraid it may be misconstrued. I can’t say thank you to reviewers on there, because if I miss thanking one, it can be taken as me not liking their review.

    I can’t comment on reviews of other’s books, because it can be seen as trying to step in and promote myself, even if I don’t mention I’m an author, because they can see it on my profile. It is like a landmine of PC/PR screw ups waiting to happen.

    • Kelly, I wish all authors were as thoughtful as you are! I have seen some horrible lashing out by authors, at the people who didn’t like their book. So unprofessional! And now I refuse to read their books. They have lost sales because of their irrational behaviour.

      As far as offering positive comments to thank reviewers, or commenting on reviews of other books, I would never see that and think an author was promoting themselves. If my review is “liked” by the author I am flattered, but I am never offended if the author doesn’t “like” it. Having said all that, not everyone is as understanding as I am, and may take offense easily, so I can see your point. If I am ever published (HA!), I plan on having my own private page, under a pseudonym, where I can post whatever I want, with no toes to step on. 😉

  • I’ve been contacted by an author because I wrote a very harsh review. She did it privately, and I keep who she is and what review it was private as well. It was amazing. I was still pretty new to reviewing and it made me think about my words. Now, I’m not saying I will never be a smartass, but I try to put more thought into it. Kelly. I love your work. I love your support. You rock. It is a scary world on Goodreads sometimes.

  • I love the freedom that GoodReads allows but it does bring out a “holier than thou” attitude from some folks. I tend to ignore the flareups and the spam because I do adore the site. I use it to find new releases and nab recommendations from my trusted friends and use it much the same way as you. I’ve found so many good books this way. I also love the “groups” that GR allows users to create. I don’t mind an author jumping in on a conversation or commenting on a review as long as they don’t call me “wrong” for stating my thoughts. An opinion can’t be “wrong” and I won’t be persuaded to change it because someone says so. I also accept author “friends” and have only had to unfriend one who shall remain nameless because he spammed me on a daily basis about a book I wasn’t interested in. There is a big difference between a little promo and annoying the hell out of any potential readers.

    “I do not under any circumstances tell someone they review wrong, or that their review is wrong. I’ve only had this happen to me once.”

    I had a reader write this in the comment section on goodreads:
    “you only used 2 lines of that whole 3 paragraphs to actually “review” the book…we get a synopsis from Goodreads automatically. We as readers are supposed to review the book, not restate the synopsis”

    I guess he thought I was a paid professional or something and not some smuck doing reviews for myself for free. He even pointed me to a link to “real” review LOL. I responded because I really dislike people telling me how to review. That annoys me. I realize the review wasn’t one of my best. I was lazy and in a hurry but I was writing it for me and have to wonder why people feel the need to be so snooty.

    • I try to avoid the drama but somehow I always find it. Haha. There is no right way to review a book. Yes, some of us have reviews that we prefer to read. Some people like to read what the book was about, and some people want an opinion. It’s different for everyone. That’s why I think there is no right or wrong way. My review style varies from book to book and which blog I am posting on. If it’s one of my own I’m more likely to cuss than I am to do the same on parajunkee.
      If someone did that to me I would respond too. Mine was someone telling me that I was wrong for saying there wasn’t a lot of editing issues. I didn’t see a lot, and she thought the book was horrible and hard to read. To each their own.

  • Well said Lori. I myself have not been embroiled in any of the drama and when I see it, I try to steer clear. I have found that there are authors I have quit reading and bloggers I have quit following because of it. I loved Goodreads when I first started up on there but it has lost much of it’s “shiny new toyness” for me. 🙁 It has become a haven for drama and spamming and I hope it all dies down soon. Authors and reviewers both need to evaluate how they handle themselves. Review as you wish but the personal attacks on each other just seem petty.

  • I just wandered over here on a lark and found this awesome post, Lori. Thank you for reminding me of what Goodreads is for.

    As an author, I loved GR before my books were published. Once the books came out, and some reviewers were less than kind, the love affair turned bitter and ended in a nasty divorce. In retaliation, I boycotted the site for several months. I NEVER argued with reviewers, though. I didn’t want to be an Author Behaving Badly, so I kept quiet, even when I tasted blood on my tongue from biting it so hard.

    There are certainly a lot of problems with Goodreads. From this author’s standpoint, the biggest one is people’s ability to “divebomb” ratings on any book they want with no consequences – case in point, four people rated JUST BREATHE before it was even finished. I LITERALLY HAD NOT FINISHED WRITING IT. I have a major problem with with this. That book had a 4.6 average rating before anyone read it! I know there’s no way to ensure a person has actually read a book before they review it, but there may be ways to minimize this type of stuff. Amazon requires a written review with a certain number of words to go along with stars. That’s not a perfect solution either, but it’s better than letting people go on there and rate things willy-nilly.

    I got back on Goodreads only because I had a book coming out, and a lot of my readers use that site. I try not to read reviews anymore. I try to distance myself. It’s hard for me not to take things personally because my books are my babies. No one likes being told their baby is ugly–especially not in a very public forum.

    I think the best way for an author to handle Goodreads is to just keep quiet. Put your books up. Stalk reviews if you must. But shut up.