Goodreads Blog
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The Future of the Book: A SXSW Panel
Posted by Otis on August 27, 2012 1

Click here to vote for our panel!

These are wild times for the book. Not since Gutenberg printed his first Bible has the concept of a book undergone such a radical transformation. With the rise of e-books and the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and e-readers, anyone can carry an entire library in their backpack or purse. At the same time, the shift to a digital library has also obliterated the old barriers to publication. As author Clay Shirky recently said ". . . the word "publishing" means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That's not a job anymore. That's a button."

The results of this revolution are just now becoming evident. The entire concept of the book—from how it's produced to how it's marketed, purchased, read, and discussed—is suddenly in flux. As we rethink what the book means and what it could be, several questions continually arise. Is reading a "social" activity? Or is it necessarily something done alone? What would a social reading experience look like? Is it more than just your average book club meeting? How are publishing companies and authors using data analysis to improve how they sell books? And as we increasingly do our computing on the go, how will mobile change the way we read?

These are the issues we're planning to tackle in our proposed South by Southwest (SXSW) panel The Future of the Book. Social Media expert and president of Human Business Works (and bestselling author of Trust Agents) Chris Brogan will host a discussion with me, Otis Chandler, Goodreads founder and CEO, and Tim Sanders, co-founder of a new company that I think is very cool: Netminds, which aims to reimagine how books are produced.

Sanders has a compelling vision for where the book is headed:

In the future, all of us will likely work on a book in some capacity, likely motivated by the books we read and the authors we engage with.
I'll share data that suggests that some of the best publishing talent in the world isn't yet working in the publishing industry. This is the bridge between Net Minds and Goodreads. Book fans are often literary talents, just waiting to work on their their own books. Fifty Shades Of Grey stands as an example of this in action.

I'll share case studies of digital publishing innovations including fan-sourced content, crowd-editing and books as living documents. Each one suggests that the publishing process is no longer linear, like a supply chain, but instead interdependent, like an eco-system.
I'll talk about how anyone with a platform and a point of view can produce the most valuable media commodity of our time—books.

Chris Brogan, who will be leading the discussion, sums up the scope of the talk nicely: "Where are books heading? Ask readers and some will argue for paper while others welcome our digital future. But that's only one angle. Books as apps. Books as places. Location based books. We have a lot to cover."

If you are interested in learning a little more about our panel, check out this short presentation we made:

A few weeks ago in anticipation of this panel, we thought it would be fun to take Brogan's idea and put the question to you, our members. We tweeted "Will reading become more of a social experience?" and asked our Facebook fans what they thought the future of the book looked like. Here were a few of the responses:

Kat reminds us that there are a multitude of ways to define "social."

Several people mentioned being able to find likeminded readers, like those found in the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout and the Sword and Laser Groups.

Help us take this discussion to the next level at SXSW by voting for our panel. If you've already voted, "Thank you!" It would also really help if you tell your friends about it on Twitter and Facebook. There's a ton of competition for panels at SXSW so...if like us, you believe that books deserve some of the spotlight, we'd really appreciate your support. And be sure to share more of your thoughts or questions about this topic below. All these opinions will help shape our conversation at SXSW.

Click here to vote for our panel!
Ten Million Thank Yous!
Posted by Otis on August 13, 2012 1

I've got exciting news to announce today: Goodreads now has 10 million members! To put this in perspective, it took four and a half years to reach 5 million members and only another 15 months to double that number. Today, six books are added on Goodreads per second.

We've come a long way since Elizabeth and I built Goodreads from our living room, motivated by the belief that there was a better way to discover and discuss good books—and that we could build it.

When we first launched in January of 2007 we waited until we hit what then seemed like a magical number of 100,000 members before we hired our first employee and secured angel funding. Since then, the vibrant Goodreads community and company has continued to blossom. We now have a team of 30, we've just moved into bigger, fancier offices in San Francisco, and we've launched an array of new products, including our super-awesome and successful Recommendations Engine.

What have you been up to, you 10 million Goodreaders?

Well, you've shelved more than 360 million books!

You've also been chatting about books. There are more than 20,000 book clubs on the site—from virtual groups to small, in-person book clubs. Here are the five largest:

And here are the top 10 all-time most-reviewed books on Goodreads:

On a personal note, I'd like to thank each and every one of our members for being part of our success. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us on Goodreads: sharing your love of reading, discovering new ideas, and telling your friends about your experience. We love your passion, your smart, thoughtful, and creative reviews, and your belief that reading books makes the world a better place.

Thank you also for all the feedback, ideas, and suggestions. We evaluate each and every one. Our To Do list is impressively long and the team is working insanely hard, but there are lots more good things to come!

With thanks from all the Goodreads team,

Live Video Chat with Erin Morgenstern, Today at 5pm ET/2pm PT
Posted by Patrick on July 30, 2012 175283

Join us today at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT for a live video chat with Erin Morgenstern, author of the runaway bestseller The Night Circus. We'll be chatting for approximately half an hour, and if you can't make it, don't worry, we will record it! Don't miss your chance to ask this acclaimed author a question!

To watch the chat or join the discussion, click here!
Live Video Chat with Jeaniene Frost, Today at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT!
Posted by Patrick on July 16, 2012 175283

Join us on today at 5pm ET/2pm PT for a live video chat with bestselling author Jeaniene Frost. We'll be discussing her newest book, Once Burned, the first in her latest series Night Prince. Don't miss your chance to ask this bestselling author a question!

To watch the chat or join the discussion, click here!
Top-Rated Summer Reads
Posted by Jessica on July 11, 2012 603238

Need a last-minute vacation read? Whether you're looking for a juicy romance, a twisty mystery, or a prose-perfect literary novel, chances are you want a sure thing. To help you with your decision, we tried something new by looking at the top-rated and most-shared books on our Goodreads App for Facebook, which is no small data set—readers are sharing more than 10 million books per month.

What we found covered suspense, historical fiction, investigative journalism, witty memoirs, young adult fantasy, and more. Narrowing things down further, these books all have a higher than 4.0 average rating.

A book's average rating may seem like a sterile, unemotional statistic, but if you look closely, simple math can reveal the beating heart of a book and the passion of its readers. Will a book become a blockbuster best-seller, or will it remain unread on the bottom of a to-read list? Here's a tip. When a book sustains a 4.0 or higher rating after thousands of readers have devoured and reviewed it, you know that you've probably found something special. These 12 books all boast large audiences and good reviews. So grab one and head to the beach!


Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
This psychological thriller is one of the best-reviewed adult novels being shared on the Goodreads app right now. When Amy disappears on the morning of her anniversary, suspicion is cast on her elusive husband, Nick. Readers must choose sides as they read the couple's conflicting accounts.

Home Front
by Kristin Hannah (Goodreads Author)
Many Goodreads reviewers mention how hard they cried while reading this book—in a good way! The novel tells the emotionally complex story of a Blackhawk helicopter pilot deployed to Iraq, far from her husband and daughters.

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1)
by Sylvia Day (Goodreads Author)
This erotic romance about a wealthy man and his young paramour is enjoying mainstream success, piggybacking on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. Goodreads members are gushing about the book, calling it "addictive" and "intense."

The Shoemaker's Wife
by Adriana Trigiani (Goodreads Author)
Trigiani spent more than 25 years writing this romantic saga inspired by how her Italian grandparents met and almost lost each other. One Goodreads reviewer says she "loved every word and wanted more when it ended."

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey (Goodreads Author)
This historical novel about a married couple on an isolated homestead captures the tenacity of those who settled the Alaskan frontier in the early 20th century. Goodreads members call it "a beautiful journey" with "magical prose."


Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
by Jenny Lawson (Goodreads Author)
Taxidermy enthusiast, irreverent mommy blogger, candid poster child for mental illness—Lawson wears many hats with pride. This top-rated memoir chronicles childhood, marriage, and motherhood in what Goodreads members are calling hysterical and inspirational prose.

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
by Rachel Maddow
Goodreads members are recommending this work of nonfiction by MSNBC talk show host Maddow that delves into military spending and the history of war policy. Reviews call the book "non-partisan" and sure to "fire up many discussions."

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed (Goodreads Author)
Now well known as the current Oprah's Book Club pick, this cathartic memoir has earned raves from Goodreads members since its debut. Wrecked by a divorce and her mother's death, novice backpacker Strayed impulsively hiked 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo
This debut narrative by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist profiles families living in the slums near the Mumbai airport. One Goodreads member lauds Boo "for her lively, un-maudlin, incisive writing."


The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
So far the most-read young adult book of 2012, Green's tale of a teen girl with Stage IV thyroid cancer has a sky-high average rating and glowing reviews that emphasize both the "great humor" and "heart-wrenching" parts of the book . Chock-full of chemo, 16-year-old Hazel wonders if her remission will last and who the cute new guy is in her cancer support group.

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi (Goodreads Author)
This adventure set on a future Earth ravaged by solar flares has risen to the top of the list for many fans of science fiction and dystopian novels for young adults. Goodreads members praise the scope of the world-building and depth of the characters.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
by Marissa Meyer (Goodreads Author)
The classic character of Cinderella is reimagined as a cyborg with a talent for mechanics in this young adult steampunk romp. Both a handsome prince and a wicked stepmother make appearances in the story that Goodreads reviewers love for its "breakneck pace" and "completely enchanting" premise.

Live Video Chat with Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Today at 5pm ET/2pm PT
Posted by Patrick on June 26, 2012 175283

Join us today at 5pm EDT/2pm PDT for a live video chat with author Vanessa Diffenbaugh. We are discussing her popular debut novel The Language of Flowers, which is now available in paperback. This is bound to be a fascinating discussion with one of the top up-and-coming authors working today. Join us!

To watch the chat and join the discussion, click here!
Live Video Chat with Ernest Cline Today at 5 ET/2 PT!
Posted by Patrick on June 18, 2012 175283

Join us today at 5pm EDT/2pm PDT for a live video chat with bestselling author Ernest Cline. We are discussing his wildly popular debut novel Ready Player One, which is now available in paperback. 80s Junkies! Hard-core gamers! Sci-fi fans! Don't miss this!

To watch the chat and join the discussion, click here!
Anatomy of Book Discovery: A Case Study
Posted by Patrick on June 14, 2012 175283

It's no secret that discovery—how, when, and where readers "discover" the books they choose to buy and read—remains a top priority for everyone in publishing. Goodreads is uniquely positioned to provide this information with our deep pool of 317 million books cataloged. In the past six months, we've done a lot of research into how readers find books, and we've presented our findings at several conferences, including Tools of Change and, most recently, the International Digital Publishing Forum.

One of the major takeaways of our research is that book discovery happens in a multitude of ways, and there is no single magic bullet that will work for every book. But that doesn't mean there aren't best practices. Here is a case study of how one book reached the promised land of the New York Times best-seller list: Goodreads Author Charles Duhigg's nonfiction book, The Power of Habit.

Stats for The Power of Habit on Goodreads.

Where on Goodreads did people discover The Power of Habit? The above graph shows what part of the site readers were browsing when they added the book. A few months before publication, most people found The Power of Habit through an advance copy giveaway (note the three spikes corresponding with the giveaway dates). Pre-publication giveaways hope to generate early buzz and seed the book page with a good number of reviews, which are crucial in helping future readers decide to add the book. The orange section of the graph shows people who added the book after seeing one of their friends add it. Notice how this starts to swell as more and more people search for the book. This is the word-of-mouth excitement that publishers and authors covet.

The Power of Habit was published on February 28, and around that time people really began searching for the book in earnest (see the red section of the graph). These people likely saw the book in a bookstore or saw it mentioned in a newspaper review or blog post, and they came to Goodreads to find out more. The next graph zooms in on what happened after the publication date:

Stats for The Power of Habit from the publication date on.

All of this early activity earned the book some editorial attention: Our newsletter editors featured it as a March "Mover and Shaker" (the green area shows Goodreads members who found it in the newsletter). Duhigg was also interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air in early March. Notice how the media attention attracted more search and friend traffic as well.

In middle March, The Power of Habit gained enough early reviews to land in our registration path, where we feature a list of all-time favorites and newer popular books. This led to a whole new wave of people discovering the book through Goodreads. Notice how the blue portion helps sustain interest in the book after the initial media attention has faded.

At this point, the Goodreads advertising team noticed that the book was a top trending title on the site and reached out to the publisher. Random House decided to pour more fuel on the fire in the form of an advertising campaign, including a sponsored poll (the brown portion of the graph). Not only did the ad produce the largest spike of people adding the book to their shelves, but it also bumped the book to a new level of popularity, plateauing at more books added per day than prior to the ad campaign.

Obviously, many things have to fall into place for a book to be a best-seller. The timing must be right, and certainly it helps if the book is thought-provoking and well-written. But several things are abundantly clear:

  • Readers discover books in a number of different ways. All these elements of discovery work together and amplify each other over time.

  • It pays to start early. Random House ran three different giveaways to generate advance reviews, which resulted in both Goodreads editorial coverage and a placement in the Goodreads recommendation engine.

  • Well-timed ads are crucial. The ad campaign, while not timed to the publication date, provided a nice boost at just the right moment, feeding the energy the publicity and marketing efforts had created earlier in the book's life.

  • Word of mouth is the foundation. The red and orange areas represent people hearing about the book somewhere other than Goodreads or hearing about it from their friends on Goodreads. Notice how those two areas are present throughout the life of the book. They mirror the bigger moments in the book's promotion, spiking during the media mentions and the advertising campaign, but they are always there providing that "buzz" that gives a book staying power.

For more insights into how books are discovered online, be sure to watch the full presentation from the 2012 International Digital Publishing Forum below.

Happy reading!
Otis, Kyusik, and Patrick

Do Good Works!
Posted by Elizabeth on June 11, 2012 5

Like everyone else working at Goodreads, I love to read. My fondest memories from childhood are undeniably tied up in the marvelous world of books: the first time I went to the school library and saw books lining the walls like some glimmering treasure trove; touching those shiny Newbery badges; plowing through countless Betsy-Tacy books with their thick, funny-smelling paper; walking to the public library once a week in the summer to get my stickers as I whittled away at a reading challenge.

The problem is not everyone has access to books. Not everyone can read. Due to circumstance or need, the idea of not being able to read or having access to books is a tragedy.

At Goodreads we feel a personal responsibility to do what we can to further the act of reading and access to knowledge. The right book in the right hands can literally change a life. We think you, passionate readers, feel the same. Two years ago we realized that our newsletter was a great place to highlight organizations that could help fellow readers or would-be readers. And so Do Good with Goodreads was born.

Since 2010, Do Good with Goodreads has featured 28 organizations with program goals ranging from bringing books to children in poorer areas to innovative literacy and library projects in dozens of countries worldwide.

Up until now, we've never known whether we're making a difference, but recently, we received this inspiring email from Chris Bradshaw, founder and president of the African Library Project.

Hi Elizabeth and Jessica (and the rest of your team),

Last month you featured the African Library Project in your newsletter. I wanted to give you a little feedback (and a lot of love) on what's happened since.

We began getting phone calls and emails from Australia, Canada, the UK, and of course, the USA, from "Goodreaders" who were moved to want to organize a book drive to help create a library in Africa. A dozen of them have signed on to do book drives which means Goodreads can add inspiring the beginning of a dozen African libraries to their plethora of accomplishments! And the inquiries keep coming in.

Now, we aren't set up to work in Australia, Canada, or the UK. But many of the Canadians that want to help will simply drive their books across the border to mail them from a U.S. post office to our warehouse in New Orleans. In the case of Australia, one of your readers was so interested, she is researching the logistics of us being able to coordinate Aussie book drives and ship containers from Australia to Africa. This could be the start of something big. We haven't figured out the UK yet, but given time...

Hope you are feeling very proud of the contribution Goodreads is making to African literacy efforts about now because we are proud of you and grateful for your support!!

Sharing the love,

Since you guys are the ones who are truly making a difference, we want to pass along the love to you. Thank you for sharing your time with us and supporting readers, both in your own neighborhoods and around the globe!

Take a look at all the nonprofits we've profiled so far, and let us know what amazing charities you'd like to see included in the future.

Goodreads Puts the Book into Facebook: Social App Now Available in Facebook’s New App Center
Posted by Otis on June 07, 2012 1

G is for Growth at Goodreads! We’re about to hit nine million members, we’ve blown past 300 million books catalogued and we’re helping readers discover about six million books every month.

We’re also seeing phenomenal growth in the Goodreads App for Facebook which launched in January:

  • The Goodreads App has 1 million Monthly Active Users, up by 490% since the launch.

  • Currently, Goodreads members are sharing around 10 million books per month via the App which are generating around 220 million impressions per month.

Growth in Monthly Active Users for Goodreads App for Facebook

And tonight, we have even more news to celebrate. This evening, Facebook is launching its new App Center to help its 901 million members discover high quality social apps for the web and mobile. Goodreads is one of the apps participating in the launch event, and the new App Center will serve as another way for people to discover our app.

What makes the Goodreads team particularly proud is that the Facebook App Center only lists high quality apps that rate well on key signals such as highest customer ratings and frequency of user shares. The Goodreads App, with an average 4.5 star rating (out of 5) is clearly winning many fans.

For those Facebook users who haven’t tried it out yet, the Goodreads App allows you to showcase the books you’ve read or want to read as well as share reviews, reading progress updates and highlight your most-read authors.

Check out our App Detail Page for more info, to sign up and to rate the App.

Sharing book recommendations with your friends has been at the heart of Goodreads from Day 1. Books fit into your life and people want to share them. Being included in the Facebook App Center means Goodreads will be introduced to more potential fans, which means even more books being shared, discussed and discovered.

Good news for book lovers – and authors - everywhere!

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