Friday, October 19, 2012

Discussion: Goodreads

TGIF!! Woohoo :) I'm looking forward to this week-end LOL. Once again, nothing planned except relax and read... and hopefully clean my room ^_^; That seems to be a challenge every week and I don't know why ^_^; This time around though, I don't have any excuses... except perhaps a good book to read!

By the way, I had my first game of curling yesterday! We won! And it was fun! And I didn't do as badly as I thought I would LOL. I'm also playing tonight, a different league though. I'll let you all know about my teammates and the games after tonight :) So stay tuned!

As for today, well originally, I had a review planned (not that it's written yet), but something happened this week that made me changed my mind. And instead, here's a discussion post that I've been wanting to write for a long time already. The topic, Goodreads :)

When I have to describe Goodreads to people who are not familiar with it, I basically tell them that Goodreads is Facebook for book lovers LOL. I think the description is quite accurate, no? And as a whole, I like Goodreads. I think it's a very useful tool to keep track of books - what I've read, what I want to read, what others are reading, etc. It's also a source of reviews and opinions and that's good for older books - the ones that were published before blogland existed - and the ones which I've missed the buzz for when they were released because I'm just discovering them. I also admit that a lot of time, I check the overall rating of a book before purchasing it, although I know some of it can be misleading because it depends on taste... and very often, if it doesn't have a rating of at least 4, I'll think twice about it before giving the book a try.What I like most about Goodreads though is that it is convenient. Kind of one place for everything and also, it's quick - a few clicks and voila.

As much as I like Goodreads, there's no denying there is some flaws. This week, we got some changes in Goodreads (which is what prompted this post)... but instead of improving or changing those flaws, they went and changed something that did not need it: the shelves/labels/tags. We got a shinier and bigger button and quite frankly, I personally feel it doesn't fit ^_^; Ah well.

What don't you like in Goodreads and wished it'd be changed/improved?

Here is my list.

1) How the search results are displayed. Before Goodreads, I used to look up for books on bookstores websites. I actually still do, just not as much. One thing I do like about those websites though is how the results are displayed. Okay, not so much how they are displayed, but the fact I can sort through the results quickly. I'd like to be able to sort through the books by year of publication or perhaps alphabetically. I know  it can be done on Goodreads, but not directly. Say I'm searching for Victoria Alexander newest book... I'll type Victoria Alexander and then, will get the results of all her books. Then, I'll have to click on one of the books "Victoria Alexander" which will lead me to the author's Goodreads page. Then I'll have to go look for her "distinct works" and finally, I'll be able to sort them out by whatever I want. Well it'd have been nice to have that option right away.

2) Ratings before publication dates. Ugh, I hate those!! It totally skews the ratings :( I understand that some people get an ARC copy and that's fine... However, to see ratings before the book is actually published simply because fans are excited or for whatever reasons, not good! Sigh.

3) Half-star scale. I wish Goodreads would implement half-star scale for the rating. I understand how it'd probably complicate the calculations and so on, also how it'd affect past ratings... but at the same time, I think it'd be a lot more accurate and reflective of our true feelings.

4) The search engine. Okay, this is minor, but it's still annoying. So for the longest time, I thought you couldn't search a book with its title and author's name at the same time. I just (read: a few hours ago, testing for this post) discovered that you could! The trick is when the results appear, click on the "all results" tab instead of "books." My question is why bother with such a tab? I mean, I'm looking for a book... So why would it show in "all results" and not "books"? Just doesn't make sense to me. Is it because it's too specific then? Speaking of specificity, I'd like to still be able to find my book if I make a small mistake... Just saying.

I know I'm not being very original since a lot of these issues have been brought up before... but this begs the question: why hasn't it been addressed yet? So what about you? Do you use Goodreads? What do you like  and don't like about it?


  1. Yay! Congrats on your first curling win!!!! :D Can't wait to hear more.

    I love goodreads and probably click over there almost once a day. Definitely a few times a week at a minimum. It's so easy to keep track of books there and if you feel like interacting with other readers, it's easy to do that too. I like seeing what friends are reading, getting a general idea of a book's rating and even finding some books that I would have otherwise missed entirely.

    I'm not crazy about that new shelf button either. It does look kind of odd, but whatever. As far as the search functions go, one of my peeves is that if you misspell a title or author's name or leave out a word from the title, the search engine doesn't give you possibilities of book titles that are close. And YES! Half star ratings would be SO awesome.

    Finally, I agree with you regarding ratings on books before they are even published. ARGH! Drives me nuts, too. How can you give a book five stars if you haven't even read the first page? So annoying.

    Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with goodreads for my purposes. :)

  2. I mostly like it, but recently something happened that makes it automatically approve my Facebook friends as Goodreads friends. I don't want this! Or, at the very least, I want to sort my friends into groups easily. I want to get the digest email of what my friends read, but only a select group of them, not all of them. I know there is a "Top Friend" option, but it needs to be easier to keep people sorted. I actually added a "how do you know me?" thing to the friend approval process, but it doesn't stop the FB friends.

  3. You made really good points! I like Good Reads in general but there are a lot of things that annoy me, like the half-star thing. And the ratings before pub.

    and congrats on your win! that was cool.

  4. I love Goodreads despite the recent internet fiascoes - I'm with you and Christine, it is great being able to see what your friends are doing and it's easy to comment etc. I stay well clear of FB but that automatic approval thing sounds horrible! I agree with the rule of thumb of 4 being the threshold for good books - heh. It's funny how true that is.

    I'm not too bothered with the new buttons (though I had a moment when I wondered if my browser was working properly when I saw them for the first time) but haven't really used them yet. I agree their search function could do with a PROPER upgrade and yes to the ratings before release when it's not based on advance copies but just a general "yay!" or "boo!". Thinking about it however, they do get balanced out once the book is actually released.

    I'm probably the odd one out but I don't mind GR not having half-stars - it forces me to think carefully about how much I actually liked/loved a book! Though I kind of cheat and use my favourites shelf to indicate a 4 1/2 stars ;-)

    What I am still trying to figure out is how my blog/GR account should interact - I see you (and most others) posting on your blog first and then on GR, which I kind of want to do because it should really go on my blog first. But then it's easier for me to write a quick review on GR, so I end up doing it the other way...


  5. Christine - LOL once a day only Christine? In comparison, it probably looks like I'm addicted to it LOL. Gotta say though lately, I haven't really checked what others are reading. Just keeping track of my own books and looking up for new books ^_^;

    I know about the search engine!! That bothers me as well! Although I found out that if you select "all results" instead of "books," it is more flexible.

    What bothers me too is that some of those early ratings for unpublished books really skew the rating when the book finally comes out. It's not accurate anymore :(

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one thinking the shelf button doesn't fit :)

    Lisa - Oh Lisa, that sucks!! Luckily for me, most of my FB friends don't have Goodreads, so I guess I'm lucky ^_^; But that's really annoying. They think they're doing us a favor by having everything connect and being so easy, but they don't understand that we want to keep things separated :( ugh.

    Alex - Thanks Alex :) Yeah, and those issues have been brought up many times already, so I don't understand why Goodreads doesn't do something about it.

    Isabel - Thanks!! It's now two wins :) Won the Friday night game :)

    Li - Well I guess it's hard for a book to have more than 4 in ratings, since that means it needs a lot of 5 in order to achieve it.

    Oh that's a good idea, having a "yay" button for release! That's really would be cool. And I mean for such a website, they really should improve the search engine. Sigh.

    I think full stars ratings is just very hard. Because they are some books that clearly are middle. It's not a 3 or 4 stars, it's a 3.5 stars. LOL.

    What I've been doing now is keeping track of what I've read and the grade on GR. I use the personal notes section to write out how I felt about the book so I don't forget. Then, when it's time to write a review, I do it directly in blogger. Most often, I copy/paste those personal notes and expand them... That's why I always have full reviews first on blogger... because I need time to expand and think. Most of the time, my personal notes are in abbreviations too ^_^; However, the problem is that it makes me lazy and a lot of time, I don't copy/paste my full review into GR ^_^;

  6. Hi Nath!
    Well, I don't have a goodreads account. I have a shelfari one and I don't update it, for one reason only, same reason why I don't join goodreads. I'm too lazy to add books. I tried it with shelfari and spent a whole afternoon just adding books I had, only the first of series...and to keep doing it, to add books read, to read and to be bought? Plus, rating, and writing and whatever? I'm too lazy.
    I stick to my blog.
    I like to see what people are saying about a certain book if I can't elsewhere, but I don't feel the need to join. I think I might if I could just go to an author and add all the books I wanted at the same time..but then I guess to keep changing what I'm reading to what I want to read...ahh too lazy.

  7. I just never linked my goodreads account to my facebook account for just those reasons. You can probably undo the connection that was made in settings in either facebook or goodreads if it bothers you.

  8. Before discovering GR I also used to find book using websites like Amazon, but I think the ratings on GR are more accurate (although not always). I like that when I search a book I can see how my friends rated the book. And obviously the idea of a social media for book lovers is very appealing. But like you, there are many things that bother me. The first is the search engine. It doesn't allow typos, so if I’m not sure how to write an author’s name, it’s hard to find the books. I also hate the early reviews, but as in any reviews, the fangirls are easy to tell apart. And I hate the new green button. It also bothers me that they changed “To read” for “I want to read”, which is not the same at all.

  9. S. - Oh I used to have a shelfari account, but I think Goodreads is better. Also, the trick is not to go back LOL. Just start "now." I joined in December 2009 and just went from there. From time to time, when I see a book that I do own, I add it, but as a whole, I didn't go back to add all my books. It's just a tool for me to keep track of what I'm reading now :) but yeah, it's a lot of juggling and I understand sticking only to your blog. For me though is that I never blog immediately about a book I've just read, so if I don't keep track somehow, I'll forget ^_^;

    Christine - I don't either. FB and GR, two different sets of friends :)

    Brie - Oh for sure, the ratings would be more accurate on GR. I never used to look at ratings before GR LOL. I used to search books on Chapters and there's no ratings there.

    I also like that I can get what my friends thought of the book, that's one of the advantage.

    Glad I'm not the only one having issues with the search engine! The specificity of it is really annoying :( Sigh. and while fangirls are easy to tell apart, they can still be annoying. Oh and you know, if you want "to read," you can add it to your own shelves and put it as one of your top priority shelf like it used to be. So you can make a shelf/tag "to read," and put it as exclusive when you edit bookshelves.

  10. Congrats on the win!

    Oh, #2 has been my pet peeve from the beginning. Why allow ratings before the book is even out? Sometimes months before! Make it functional say 1-2 months prior to the release for the ARC reviews. Of course if the users would simple stop posting those stars when they haven't even read the book, that would solve the problem. lol

  11. Oh, Goodreads!

    I use it all the time these days to keep track of my books, genres read, etc. I like it for that reason. I also write mini-reviews there sometimes when I don't really feel like writing review of an older book, or I don't feel like writing a complete review in my blog, period. I cross-post my reviews from my blog to Goodreads, and I like that I've made friends there from all over the place who are interested in the different types of books I like to read (including literary fiction, poetry and fiction). It's really nice.

    But pet peeves? I agree with two of yours

    #2) Rating books BEFORE they are released and BEFORE books are read. I cannot understand WHY anyone would rate a book 5 stars because they are anxious or excited about reading a book! That drives me nuts! Example: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. That book had 5 stars in both Goodreads and Amazon for months, and it was because readers were excited.

    #4) I agree with you... searching for books is a pain. They make it difficult and sometimes even by typing the name of the author you can't find what you're looking for. Too many steps, and god forbid you make a mistake and use the wrong spelling! You'll never, ever find the author or the book. Ugh!

  12. Leslie - It'd be awesome if they could do something like what you're suggesting Leslie. I agree that the rating should only be functional perhaps 1 or 2 months before releases. Then again, those who are so excited would still give their ratings. So the addition to a button "like" would perhaps help. It's just annoying though.

    Hilcia - I'm glad I'm not the only one who have those peeves! I guess there's nothing that can be done about the ratings before releases... but the search engine, that's definitively something they should improve on!! If you make a mistake, forget it. And it's ridiculous how you cannot sort through the results to make it easier to find what you want to find :(