Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 331-340 of 448)
Goodreads has a new look!
Posted by Otis on November 26, 2008 1

Goodreads 2.0 is here! We're very excited to release a new design to you all tonight. We've been testing the new design for the past week and are really excited about it.

The redesign is focused on improving site usability and navigation. It contains only a few new features, but we have moved a number of things around to make them easier to find and use.

Key aspects of the redesign are:
* The site is wider (960px)!
* New header navigation that uses dropdowns to allow faster access to key areas of the site.
* The row of books in the header moved from hanging upside down to being right side up. Our designer pointed out that before it looked as though they were about to fall out of the sky! :)
* New "explore books" page that is a jumping off point to all explore books pages (listopia, popular books, most read books, etc)
* The grey boxes used all over the site have been replaced with a clean rounded brown header. This allows for less visual clutter and more space for content.
* The elements on the book page have been rearranged a bit to make the content people use the most more prominent.
* The wider site allowed us to move the bookshelves on the 'my books' page to a narrow column on the left, which really cleaned up the look & feel of that page - especially for those of us (like me) who have a lot of shelves.

We also launch one fairly significant new feature - a new comment digest system! This allows members to follow a discussion in a group instantly, daily, or weekly. Previously we just had daily. You can also now follow any discussion anywhere on the site, where previously only groups and review comments had email notifications. We expect this to be a significant improvement in letting members easily follow the discussions they care about!

Please check it out and give us your feedback, and help us nail any remaining bugs!
Nominate Goodreads for the Crunchies!
Posted by Otis on November 20, 2008 1

1 like · like 1 comment
improved account settings
Posted by Ken-ichi on November 05, 2008 216786

For those of you who don't follow Goodreads announcements, we've recently reorganized the account settings page, consolidating settings that used to be spread out across several pages. Here are some things you can do there:

  • change your name / email / profile picture

  • select what kind of email updates you receive from Goodreads

  • select what kinds of updates go in your update feed

  • connect your account to other websites like facebook and twitter

  • find widgets to embed in your blog or website

  • select and order book links that you see on every book page (e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)

So, no new functionality, but hopefully now these settings will be easier to find.

Goodreads makes Dewey a Bestseller!
Posted by Otis on October 21, 2008 1

Well probably not, but I'd like to think we helped. We are running an ad campaign this month for Dewey The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, and I just read an article on CNN about how it's on all the bestseller lists!

We have seen the number of people adding it to their shelves increase over 400% in the last two weeks. I'm sure the book is being advertised elsewhere too of course, but it is fun to see a book we are working with do so well.

Rebranding Books at Bookninja
Posted by Ken-ichi on October 21, 2008 216786

[image error]The good folks at Bookninja have been running a contest: rebrand your favorite authors and books to appeal to a broader audience of supposedly simpler tastes! The finalists are hilarious. I found the rebranding of Cormac McCarthy's The Road particularly awesome.
October Newsletter: Rock the Vote With Goodreads!
Posted by Elizabeth on October 14, 2008 5

October Newsletter

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that these are important times. The rocky nature of the economy, the situation in Iraq, health care at home, all of these issues affect each and every one of us. It’s scary. We could be at the edge of a great abyss, or at the beginning of a meteoric ascension. It’s up to us.

I think we all know that this election is deeply important. At Goodreads we wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of the current climate with a newsletter that would help our members become as informed as possible by November 4th. That’s a tall order.

Right now there are major issues in the information world that make it hard for the average voter. First of all, whom can you trust? I think that with the decline in newspapers (and as a former member of the Los Angeles Times, I can tell you that newspapers have become quite a stressful place to work), consumers are becoming more and more wary of the information they receive. On the news production side, reporters know that their jobs are in jeopardy—why should they write something that will rock the boat? There are also fewer and fewer layers of editors to look over a story and eliminate any bias. Fact checking and librarian teams at media organizations are being cut or eliminated. Then you have blogs, which for the most part have no form of repercussion for inaccuracy and defamation. We have so much information available to us, but no idea what is really the truth.

When people watch the debates they feel the same sense of helplessness. Everyone has become such a good campaigner. But what will they do when elected into office?

Knowing what is right and what is important to you has become even more of a personal journey. We are now truly responsible for our own education. There is no Walter Cronkite to tell us what to believe. We have to actively seek out information and be ruthless when discarding falsities—just the thought of it makes me tired.

Luckily we have places like Goodreads. This site is about real people helping each other. The best place to start your re-education is to get on the site and start looking at political books from across the spectrum. If you look at enough reviews, you’ll begin to discern books that can help you learn about the issues that you care about. And we really encourage you to try and branch out and read something contrary to your values. Only by challenging your beliefs will you grow.

In our newsletter, we interviewed two political writers, one conservative, Dick Morris, and one liberal, Thomas Frank. We also let our readers decide which red, blue and purple books were the most important to read. In addition, we’ve provided a link to a user-generated list called Best Books to Become an Informed Voter.

It’s important to know the issues. And this is the year to do it. Check it out!

Good night and good luck,

Welcome to Ken-ichi!
Posted by Otis on October 14, 2008 1

We're happy to announce a new face at Goodreads: Ken-ichi Ueda! Ken-ichi comes to us from Berkeley where he made a really cool site for naturalists.

Here's a bio he wrote:

Once upon a time, Ken-ichi thought he would be a paleontologist. Then he thought he'd be a computer scientist. Then a biologist. Then a cartographer. Then an informaticist. Then a biodiversity informaticist! Now he is a web developer. But while his goals grew and shifted, he always knew he was a reader: from Dune to Pride &
, from field guides to programming manuals, Ken-ichi loves a
good book. When he's not breathlessly awaiting the next David
novel, you can find him exploring the land and see of California in search of spineless wonders!
Status Updates: what page are YOU on?
Posted by Otis on October 08, 2008 1

We just launched a very exciting new feature: now you can add your status for books you are currently reading. Adding your reading progress has been a top requested feature, and we think the implications of this one are huge.

Similar to Twitter or Facebook, which both pose the question "What are you doing right now?", we are asking "What page are you on right now?". Members can micro-blog their thoughts about books as they read. They can also add what page they are on and put virtual notes in the margins as they progress through a book.

The really exciting thing about status updates is that they put everyone literally on the same page. We think it will help reading become even more of a social activity. Members will be able to find other people who are not just reading the same book, but also people are reading the same chapter. They can discuss a book with their friends or members of a book club as they read. They can share the suspense of a great plot twist together. It will foster deeper discussion and more excitement about a book. We also think it will inspire our members to read even more since it will introduce that element of competition (how fast can *you* read?).

I'm personally excited about this feature because I think it will help me keep track of and share my thoughts more efficiently. Often when I'm reading a book I read a passage that stimulates a thought worth writing down. How many books are full of great margin notes that nobody else ever sees? I'm excited to now have a great way to share them with others.

One other exciting part of the launch is that we have included the ability to sync your Goodreads reading status to Facebook or Twitter. To set it up, visit your my account page.

We've been beta-testing update statuses for the last week, and have been very encouraged to see over 10,000 added already! Please give us any feedback you have in the Goodreads Feedback Group.

To add your own updates, make sure you have a book in your 'currently-reading' shelf, then visit the Goodreads Homepage, or the page for book you're reading.

Here's a screenshot of my last update:

Fiction Rule of Thumb
Posted by Michael on October 01, 2008 73

The xkcd webcomic web comic today was not only hilarious (as it usually is), but also book related so I figured I'd repost.

Fiction Rule of Thumb


Neal Stephenson interview
Posted by Otis on October 01, 2008 1

We recently interviewed one of my favorite authors, Neal Stephenson about his new book Anathem.

I just loved one of Neal's answers, and had to re-post it here. The full text of the answer is below, but basically Neal said that the internet is creating an "intellectual underclass", perpetuated by bad information through email. I think information accountability is going to be one of the biggest tasks of the future of the internet.

Neal Stephenson interview question:

Goodreads: Snow Crash is lauded for its anticipation of (or influence over) later creations in software and gaming, such as Second Life. Where do you see the Internet going in five to ten years? Any predictions or trends you have observed?

Neal Stephenson: I see this as more and more of a social class issue. I'm remembering the advent of late '60s/early '70s drug culture when I was a kid. Authority figures would try to scare us away from drugs, and whether or not we were actually using drugs, we would just laugh at them because their threats and warnings seemed so overwrought. We all knew people who used various kinds of drugs but managed to stay healthy and out of trouble. Much later, it became obvious to me that the middle-class kids I tended to hang out with were cushioned from possible negative effects of drugs by their intellectual, financial, and social capital. Their parents and friends and neighbors kept an eye on them; Dad was always there to bail them out; they knew lawyers and doctors who could get them out of trouble. But that wasn't true of lower-class drug users. Poor people and communities really did suffer terrible effects from drugs because they lacked that cushion.

How does this apply to the Internet? Well, a few years ago we heard (and we still sometimes hear) dire warnings about the possible negative effects of the Internet, but we've gotten into the habit of laughing them off. We all know how to discern spam from legitimate email; we self-police on Wikipedia; we develop a sixth sense for knowing when a web page was put up by a crackpot. So I'm pretty complacent and pretty positive about the Internet as long as I'm hanging out with technically savvy Internet users. But when I come into contact with users who aren't so technically savvy, I'm shocked by how gullible they are and how effectively they are being manipulated by bad actors who know how to exploit that gullibility. There is a huge political campaign being waged right now in the form of E-mail smears that are being forwarded around the Internet like chain letters. They are obviously coming out of campaign boiler rooms somewhere, but they are sent around from person to person in social networks that fly way under the radar of MySpace, Facebook, etc., and many of the recipients are just unbelievably naive about them — they'll believe any kind of accusation against a candidate, so long as it's contained in one of these E-mails. That's only one example of how technically non-savvy people are being gulled and used on the Internet. I think we are headed for a situation in which we have a distinct intellectual/information underclass, created and perpetuated by bad Internet memes, and that the vector for those memes is going to be E-mail rather than Web pages.