GoodReads vs StoryGraph: the Ultimate Battle of the Book Community
February 17, 2022
In the book community, there has always been one dominating presence to track your reading, connect with bookworms from around the world and create discussion posts and online book clubs. Goodreads has been the number one book tracking platform since it first launched.
In 2019, StoryGraph entered the scene. It offered readers a chance to escape another Amazon purchase and re-learn what Goodreads started off as—simply a place for readers to track their reading and connect with others who share similar reading preferences.
Goodreads’ Side of the Story
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!
StoryGraph’s Side of the Story
Thanks to TikTok (specifically the “BookTok” side of the app), StoryGraph was popularized overnight during the summer of 2021. Not only is the app not in the hands of a company looking for more money, but it was actually designed and is run by bookworms.
According to StoryGraph’s website, “It’s run and built by Nadia Odunayo and Rob Frelow. It started life as a personal side project of Nadia’s to create and track progress through reading lists.”
Plus, something everyone wants from a building community, their team listens to its supporters’ concerns and includes them in the development of new projects. StoryGraph is only just starting their journey and they have already made giant steps in the improvement of their site since I joined in August 2021, including some features I’ll get to in a minute. Users are able to view the new and upcoming changes via the Road Map link on both the website and app (because yes, there is both a website and app, similar to Goodreads).
The fairly new app is free, but does have a subscription plan for those who want to unlock features that go more in-depth but are not necessary for the best experience. The most recent feature that was added to the app was the yearly wrap up, something that I know many of us who switched entirely from Goodreads to StoryGraph were excited to finally see. The addition of buddy reads and more friend features have also recently been added and users (including myself) have jumped at the chance to reach out to those who are already reading a book or at least have it shelved on their TBR (bonus points: the buddy reads have a built in discussion space for readers to talk).
Along with the new updates are the basic features that I was extremely excited and impressed by upon logging in.
The Analytics: Goodreads tracks your reading, but StoryGraph took it a few steps further. Users can now track the genre of books they’re reading throughout the year, the mood, the pace, the range of pages, whether or not it’s fiction or nonfiction, the format (audio, print, or e-books), their most read authors, and the comparison between page number and books read each month. With the PLUS plan, users can see direct comparisons between years too. This section is available throughout the entire year and is updated as users add even a few pages to their current reads.
The Rating System: If you use Goodreads, you know the one to five star rating system that allows readers only the whole numbers, which leaves us to comment for future reference on the real rating if it was on a point scale. Well, good news, StoryGraph developers also understood this issue with the old system and now users can rate their books anywhere from zero to five stars, but with the ability to include a 0.25 to 0.75 scale. Until the scale is being used like this, your overall yearly rating is likely completely off.
Friends and Privacy: Fairly new, the app added the ability to follow and befriend other users from around the world. Depending on their privacy settings, users are able to see their statistics and TBR pile; the only downside is the inability to chat with these users outside buddy reads.
User-Interface: When I started on Goodreads, the screen was full of ads or other readers with public profiles displaying the read they enjoyed or hated, along with the pop-ups to vote for the Choice Awards. It was so crowded. StoryGraph’s main page is completely uncluttered, with a clean background and simple categories, including your current reads, recommendations based on what information the specific user gives the company, your TBR pile, and popular reads that week. The most annoying part about StoryGraph that I have grown used to is the opening of new “pages” when you click on something new. Instead of being able to just go back to the main screen with the tap of the back arrow, you have to click through anything you just looked at (unless of course you click the main icons at the bottom of the page).
Reading Challenges: The app allows you to set both a page and book challenge for each year, but it also allows users to create their own challenges for the community, and allows for smaller, monthly challenges that users can opt into.
MISC: Though neither of these features really fit into their own category, I felt it important to include them. Goodreads has a similar feature in that you can look back on your progress of a book based on what you update as you read, but I believe StoryGraph does this slightly better. Instead of it being per book, the new app has a specific space for a reading journal that houses all of your updates from all books ever in it’s own spot on a timeline based on when you updated for each book. The app also has a built-in “did not finish” category, something Goodreads has always lacked, which allows the reader to see which books they decided not to finish and there is a space for them to write why.
Now I understand, you’re probably still apprehensive about making the full switch because what about your data that has been stored solely on Goodreads since middle school or the ability to connect with your friends? Well, StoryGraph allows you to import all of your data into their database with three simple steps that they readily walk you through.
This app is still being developed, but, at least in my opinion, it has a bright future. In the meantime, I will continue bouncing between the two, remaining heavily on StoryGraph, but it’s up to you what reading platform makes the most for your reading habits.
If you want to give it a spin, you can see my StoryGraph profile here!