Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 341-350 of 431)
new book montage widget
Posted by Otis on May 26, 2008 1

Decided to have some fun with widgets today. Inspired from one of the top Facebook apps, I made a new 'book montage' widget. It's a javascript widget, so it will only work on blogs that allow javascript widgets. Like our flash widget, its full configurable in terms of which books you show, and how many. The other cool part is its variable width, so it will fit anywhere!

Check it out in action below — or get started configuring your own!

Order your to-read shelf!
Posted by Otis on May 13, 2008 1

We've made some improvements to the recently launched order your to-read shelf feature.

In addition to being able to move items up and down, you can now use the edit view to enter the exact number you'd like to reorder the list to! This interface has worked well for Netflix so we thought - why reinvent the wheel?

On a side note I think the ability to order my shelves (you can make any shelf orderable in 'edit shelves') is the coolest feature we've launched this year. From a usability perspective what was happening was that as people added more and more books to their to-read list it became so large as to be useless - people were being forced to make separate 'to-read-soon' lists. I believe the ordering will fix this issue - and set the stage for many other things!

Here's a screenshot:

Goodreads Indonesia gathering
Posted by Otis on May 11, 2008 1

Evidently some of our nearly fifty thousand Indonesian members organized a gathering. A picture is worth a thousand words, so all I'll say is that this makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy :)

What do you want on your homepage?
Posted by Otis on May 08, 2008 1

Now you can get get recent updates from your groups on your Goodreads homepage! While many members love the updates from the friends, many people have mentioned that their groups are updated more frequently, and they'd love a better way to keep tabs on it.

There are now 4 tabs on the homepage, allowing members to see updates from their friends, top friends, groups, or just view books or reviews from thteir friends.

One search to rule them all
Posted by Otis on May 08, 2008 1

We launched a great new feature a few weeks ago that hasn't been mentioned yet on this blog. You can now search across all searchable items from the main search page (accessible in the header). Previously the main search page only searched books, and it was up to the user to navigate to the index pages for groups, quotes, events, stories, and people to search them.

Having six different search pages in six different areas just didn't make a lot of sense! It made a lot of the great content basically invisible for lots of members. We really hope hope the new search page leads lots of new members to find all the great content that exists in the various sub-areas of the site.

Here's a screenshot of the new page:

Manually ordering your shelves
Posted by Michael on April 29, 2008 73

You can now manually sort your to-read book shelf.

You can also make other shelves (besides the read list) sortable.

Interview on BNET's Dog & Pony show
Posted by Otis on April 28, 2008 1

Does JK Rowling own Harry Potter?
Posted by Otis on April 16, 2008 1

In a recent article in the New York Times titled Rowling to Testify in Trial Over Potter Lexicon, it was announced that JK Rowling is suing a small publishing house (RDR Books) that was planning to publish a Harry Potter Encyclopedia. The book was to be based on the content from the website The Harry Potter Lexicon, by a Mr. Vander Ark. Now this doesn't sound right at all - has JK lost it?

Fan fiction is a huge genre. I went through a whole phase in middle school of reading dozens of books that continued the Star Wars series. There is even a Star Wars Encyclopedia. Did all those books have to kick back to George Lucas? I don't know - but I wouldn't guess Lucas cared either way - the more fans got into it the more movies he would sell.

So if fan fiction is a huge genre, it appears JK Rowling can't own Harry Potter. She attempts to explain on her website:

"From what I understand, the proposed book is not criticism or review of Harry Potter's world, which would be entirely legitimate – neither I nor anybody connected with Harry Potter has ever tried to prevent such works being published. It is, we believe, a print version of the website, except now the information that was freely available to everybody is to become a commercial enterprise.

It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author's hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else's work, it does not become theirs to sell."

Ah-ha. The lexicon, claims Rowling, has no original content. So perhaps Rowling *does* own Harry Potter - the Harry Potter described in her books. If fanfic fans want to build on that Harry Potter, and create something original, then there are no problems. So all you fans of Harry Potter that want to write some stories, breathe easy, JK won't be coming for you!
Is reading dead?
Posted by Otis on April 12, 2008 1

A journalist asked me the other day "Do you think reading is dead?". I'm aware people have the perception that people reading less these days. And it doesn't help that the National Endowment for the Arts keeps releasing studies that say so.

Personally I don't think its true for most people - if you like to read you will always read, even if you don't have much time now - you will later.

My favorite answer to that journalists question is to spout off something about reading just needing a social conduit. With mass-media, like American Idol or whatever movies are in theater, we can always find common ground with other people. But the chances that we are reading the same books at the same time is low. But if we were both on Goodreads it might be able to spark a conversation about books.

But I think there is another reason reading isn't dead that I don't get to talk about much, probably because it sounds nerdy. I'm one of those crazy people who likes to *learn*. Learn about new places, people, cultures, ideas - whatever. The things I've learned in books have helped define me as a person. And I'm always able to take away ideas from whatever I'm reading to attack the problems I'm facing in the real world.

Some people wouldn't think that you can learn things from a work of fiction - but learning is an experiential process. That means we remember things by associating them with how we learned them. Conversely, that also means we need to experience things to really learn them. And if you have an active enough imagination, a good book is all you need.

I just read a a very well-written blog posted titled How to Fuel Your Idea Machine that put it's finger on how reading helps us even better - go read it!

A choice quote:

"Reading books, fiction and non-fiction, fuels your idea machine. It gives you fodder to think with. The brain is essentially nothing more than a computer (albeit much more complicated); it takes an input, processes it and produces an output. In other words, you can’t create ideas without inputs."

So is reading dead? Not to me :)

1 like · like 1 comment
New unread messages folder
Posted by Otis on April 08, 2008 1

Now it's a snap to see which topics in your favorite groups have new messages since you've last checked!

This is a huge change, as makes it so much easier for members who follow groups regularly to see what they've missed. We only wish we launched this sooner!