Goodreads’ Side of the Story

Since its launch, the popular reading tracker has only grown in popularity.

Logo Courtesy: Goodreads

Since it’s launch, the popular reading tracker has only grown in popularity.

Ashley McFadden, Editor-in-Chief

  At some point between seventh and eight grade, the book community on YouTube grabbed me and said buckle up. It was then that I began recording what I was reading and what I was rating said books. Logging into Goodreads now gives me a sense of being at home in it’s overly populated space full of bookworms like myself. 

  Like many, last year I decided I would try to limit giving money to Amazon, and that included using products they had bought, and one of those happened to be Goodreads. The money making giant had bought the website and app in 2013 and has had control of its features and updates since. However, just because I tried to remove myself from the app, doesn’t necessarily mean it was successful. It is the longest running and most successful app for book communities around the world, and it was hard to find anything to compete against it. That said, I’ve always held opinions similar to many other users of the app, and a lot of my issues lie directly in their features, even if they do feel easy to use at first. 

  The Analytics: Each year, Goodreads compiles a list of books that the user has read throughout the year, what each was rated, what book had the highest rating, the lowest rating, and the most popular and least popular book. That’s about it though. It’s a once a year update and though you can access that part of the database throughout the year, it’s a pain that involves needing to access the year prior and clicking ahead. The bugs on the site sometimes make it impossible to even access the prior years wrap up as it is, and to jump ahead can prove to be an unwanted challenge. 

  The Rating System: The system Goodreads operates on regarding ratings is fine, but I, along with many, many other readers, don’t tend to only rate in whole numbers, which is exactly what Goodreads would prefer. The scale goes from 1 to 5 (or no rating), with nothing in between. Again, this is not a large issue, but it does skew the true ratings of books because instead of  four and a half stars, someone may have rated it five, which might not seem very important, but that half a point can mean the difference between a book I’ll remember for the next three years and a book I loved but likely wouldn’t reread. 

  Friends and Privacy: Being the longest and most popular app regarding reading tracking, it also comes with the updates regarding who users can communicate with and when. The app allows users to message others, whether you’re friends or not depending on what your privacy settings are. You are able to look up friends by their email address or name, through contacts, or facebook. 

  User-Interface: For me, joining Goodreads was overwhelming because of the home page where random generated reviews are placed from people users already follow or from users who the Goodreads’ algorithm believes have similar reading preferences to yourself. It is crowded and when the reviews have text associating them, it’s often messy looking, especially when you’re using the app, where the screen is smaller and there is less space for reviews to be stretched out. 

  The overall navigation of the app can also be slightly confusing if you’re not a seasoned user. On the app, there are five basic tabs you can switch through, with hidden tabs that are important but not as pertinent to the app’s use. On the website though, there are an abundance of tabs to visit: from the home page, your books (which expands into another long list of organizing tabs), and browsing community groups, discussion pages, and other Goodreads curated lists. Switching between tabs can be annoying, but the website and app do allow for a wide range of bookish places for users to find their niche and see what other readers are up to. 

  Reading Challenges: The reading challenges are the reason I joined way back in middle school. You are able to set the amount of books you want to read over the course of the year and all you have to do is set the books you’ve read to the “read” status for it to update. If the challenge users set back in January becomes too daunting, they always have the option to change it later on. They are able to view their past challenges and the end of year summaries that Goodreads’ puts together and is made available on New Years Day. Personally, this is my favorite part of the app because I’m able to view all of the little statistics that I created just by participating in my favorite pastime. 

  MISC: Among the plentiful features, a “did not finish” category is not one of them. Users are unable to mark their reading status as DNF, which creates the occasional need for readers to comment in the ratings section with the simple acronym. Until the last few years, the app did not even have a no rating function, so books users started but did not finish were either made to be one star reads or just removed from their page. 

  The tab titled “My Books” on the website is the most helpful piece of the software in my opinion because it is similar to your own library catalog of what you want to read. It allows you to filter based on author, title, and date added, along with the bonus of when you added the book to your “want to read” shelf. I have often found myself using this section to figure out what to read next off of my TBR that has been on there for longer than it really should be.  

  Goodreads is the number one reading app for a reason. It has created a space on the internet specifically for bookworms and casual readers alike. It has a seemingly endless list of features and functions, though at the cost of an overwhelming and crowded effect. This app has been developed for many years at this point and extensive new features are unlikely to be created any further at this point. Regardless, it’s been tried and tested by millions of users since 2006 and it’s still only growing. 

If you want to try the tried and tested app for Goodreads, you can see my profile here and you’ll be directed to a sign up link!