Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Amazon’s Goodreads Is a Poor Excuse for a Book-Based Social Network

Sarah Manavis, New Statesman:

With the vast amount of books and user data that Goodreads holds, it has the potential to create an algorithm so exact that it would be unstoppable, and it is hard to imagine anyone objecting to their data being used for such a purpose. Instead, it has stagnated: Amazon holds on to an effective monopoly on the discussion of new books – Goodreads is almost 40 times the size of the next biggest community, LibraryThing, which is also 40 per cent owned by Amazon – and it appears to be doing very little with it.

In an alternate universe, we could be living with a meticulous tool for finding books we would love to read, from a much wider diversity of authors. Instead we have a book tracker that, for many people, barely works.

Goodreads fails at even the most basic task of tracking read books. In its iOS app, it will prompt you with the date picker to enter the dates you started and finished reading; it is necessary to add a finished date if you’re interested in knowing how many books you read in a given year. However, there is no “save” or “done” button, so you must enter the date and then select another field to dismiss the picker, which automatically saves the date. It is unintuitive and awkward.

Manavis points to the StoryGraph as a potential Goodreads competitor, so I gave the beta site a shot. I signed up, and it walked me through exporting my Goodreads data and bringing it to StoryGraph — a good start. But Goodreads’ exported file did not contain most of the dates when I finished reading something, meaning that StoryGraph does not have a sense of what I’m reading now or have been interested in lately.

StoryGraph does seem promising. I am looking forward to trying it. Unfortunately, it means that I will need to manually enter my reading into both apps, which is pretty tedious.