Goodreads Blog
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What's Going On with Readers Today? Goodreads Finds Out
Posted by Otis on February 25, 2013 1

What makes someone decide to read a particular book? Do people read on their cell phones? Is there really a "walled garden" or do people shop around for e-books? And how many readers actually want books in serial format?

These are all questions we tackled in our presentation at February's publishing industry conference, Tools of Change. This year, we decided to do something a little different. We asked publishers what topics interested them, and then we surveyed the experts—the Goodreads community. The results were fascinating.

Book Discovery

"Discovery" is a huge topic in the publishing industry, especially as more and more books are published each year. For this presentation, we took a different tack. Rather than just ask a general "How do you discover books?" question, we went to recent readers of two popular books on Goodreads and asked: "What convinced you to read this book?"

The two choices were Gone Girl (which was the most reviewed book on Goodreads in 2012 and the winner of the Mystery & Thriller category in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards) and The Night Circus (a debut novel from 2011, which was a finalist in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards).



A recommendation from a trusted friend was the clear winner for both books. This reinforces other industry studies and also underlines something we've long believed: Books are one of the strongest social objects that exist.

From our earliest days, humans have always connected over stories. We see remnants of those tales in cave paintings dating back 40,000 years. The power of a story—and the desire to share and talk about that story—lives on today, even in a world turned increasingly digital. In fact, if you look at the graphic above, several of the top answers (Everyone Talking About It, Book Club, On "Best" Lists) all go back to one powerful need: wanting to be connected with our "tribe" through stories.

E-Books Escape from the E-Ink Reader

With 75% of our members reading books in e-book format at least some of the time (see slide 19 "Which format do you prefer to read in?"), publishers are interested in which devices people use to read. There have been industry reports, for example, that tablets are outselling dedicated e-readers. Publishers want to see how this impacts the choice of devices for e-book reading.

  • 37% of our survey respondents read e-books on their cell phones. Of these,
    • 72% read e-books on their cell phones while commuting or waiting in line
    • 13% say that their cell phone is the only device they use to read e-books
    • A surprising, but still small, number of people noted in the "Other" response option that they use their cell phone as a backup device. For example, one member wrote that she uses her cell phone to read e-books "when my child has my Kindle." We think if we'd given this as an option that we would have seen a high enough percentage to have included "use as backup e-book reading device" in the top responses.
  • 86% of survey respondents who own a tablet read e-books on the device. Of these,
    • 74% use their tablets to read around the home
    • 68% read e-books with their tablets in bed
    • Almost a third (32%) say that the tablet is the only device they use to read e-books


E-Book Readers Take Down That Wall

We also took a look at how locked in people are to their e-reader devices. Surprisingly, we found that almost three quarters (73%) of e-book readers shop around for the best price at least sometimes. And 20% always shop around for the best price.

That then opened up the question: Were some e-book readers more likely to shop around than others?



A surprising 18% of Kindle readers also read on Apple iBooks, and 15% also read in the Nook format.

Nook and Apple iBook readers appear to be less locked in to their formats than Kindle readers.

It's important to note that we didn't ask respondents what their primary format was, so this data should only be taken as an indication of the level of experimentation that's taking place. But it does open up some interesting questions. In particular, as tablets increasingly become the e-book reader device of choice for more and more people, does this also mean that they are reading across different e-reader apps? A question for a future survey, perhaps.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More

Everybody's favorite example of an author who had success publishing his books in a serial format is Charles Dickens (author of, among other classics, Oliver Twist). With the rise in e-books, there has been an increasing rise in people experimenting with the serialization of books.

We asked Goodreads members whether they would be interested in reading a book in serial format instead of waiting six months for a complete book. We also asked them to rate their interest for both an author they knew and liked and an author they did not know.



The contrast in responses was clear. For an author that they knew and liked, almost half (49%) said they would be interested in this concept. However, for an unknown author looking to use this technique to gain readers, the data is not as encouraging. Only 17% said they would be interested and more than half (55%) said they are not at all interested. That's not to say that you shouldn't experiment with this option if you are an author looking to grow a fan base. After all, a certain successful book with the word "fifty" in its title originally started as a serial. Just be aware that the barriers for unknown authors are higher than you might realize.

For even more nitty-gritty from the world of readers, please take a look at our complete presentation:




Is the Book Really Better Than the Movie?
Posted by Patrick on February 22, 2013 175283

Half of this year's ten Best Picture nominees are based on books: Lincoln (adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals), Life of Pi (from Yann Martel's novel), Silver Linings Playbook (from Matthew Quick's book), Les Misérables (Victor Hugo, by way of Broadway), and Argo (based on both Antonio J. Mendez's autobiography The Master of Disguise and Joshuah Bearman's article from Wired). But the jump from page to screen isn't always so successful. Too many times we leave the theater sighing and saying, "The book was better." Of course, the opposite is sometimes true. Occasionally a story is so well adapted that it will outshine the original source material. Ever hear of the 1979 thriller Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp? It spawned the movie Die Hard, which has gone on to become one of the most memorable movie franchises of the last 30 years. "Yippee-ki-yay!" indeed.

Here's the big question: Is the book really better than the movie? In our search for an answer, we looked at more than 300 books and the movies made from them to determine whether the adaptations generally received better or worse reviews than their counterparts. For the books, we used our average rating (found on every book page on Goodreads). For the movies, we used the Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating.

In general, people liked the books in our sample set better than the movies, giving the books an average rating of 3.94 stars while rating the movies just 3.59. This makes sense, though, as one would imagine that relatively few unpopular books get adapted into movies.

By analyzing the movies to see which ones had higher ratings than the book they were based on and ordering them by the size of the difference in ratings, we were able to calculate exactly which adaptations were significantly better on the screen. The results are somewhat surprising:



Two of the top 10 adaptations from our list are nominated for Best Picture this year— the movie version of Life of Pi outpaced its book source material by a considerable margin and Argo trails only The Social Network for highest ratings discrepancy. Even though only one of the adaptations on our list won Best Picture (despite eight of the ten being nominated), we're betting on Argo to beat the odds and take home the big award.

And then there are the adaptations that maybe should've stayed on the page. When it comes to book-based movies that have disappointed us, the lesson seems to be "Do not mess with our childhood memories!" Either that or "Do not mess with Dr. Seuss!" Children's movies dominate the list of worst adaptations.



Do you have a favorite book-to-movie adaptation? How about one you'd rather forget ever happened? And who do you think will take home Oscar gold?
Live Video Chat with Kim Harrison, Today at 2pm ET/11am PT
Posted by Patrick on January 29, 2013 175283

Join us today for a live video chat with bestselling author Kim Harrison. We'll be talking about her new book Ever After, the 11th in her popular series The Hollows. Don't miss this chance to ask one of the hottest authors on Goodreads a question!

Click here to watch a recording of the chat!
Behind the Scenes at Goodreads
Posted by Elizabeth on January 29, 2013 5

Yesterday, we marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice by hanging a giant poster of Colin Firth's head in our "Pemberley" conference room. That symbolic gesture also hailed the completion of our decor at the new Goodreads offices in San Francisco. Yay!

Many months in the making, we hoped to make our office as cozy, welcoming, and bookish as possible. Our team sits in brown and green chairs in front of light wood desks; custom chairs double as bookshelves; the picnic area is where were all lunch together; photos of Goodreads employees holding their favorite books hang near the kitchen. We even created a mellow Mad Men-style lounge area where people can play chess and board games, read books from the communal shelf, or sometimes take a nap on the sofa.

Where the Magic Happens
Only One Duplicate for Favorite Book! Catch-22




Wanted: Book Lovers

Coding or Chilling, Amar?





But, back to Pemberley. In each of the conference rooms we hoped to create an atmosphere that reflected a different book from a different genre. Everyone in the office threw out ideas, and in the end we ran a poll and used a little hocus pocus to come up with five special environments.

Emily Savors the Shire


The Shire: Artist Helen Bayly spent hours creating this swirling mural of
J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy, The Hobbit. Note the friendly little hobbit curled up with his latest good read.

Max and Michael, a Perfect Pair

Land of the Wild Things: Hipster icon, kid-book illuminatus, we hope the wildly inventive
Maurice Sendak would have enjoyed our little shrine to Max, the boy who throws on his wolf suit and sparks a wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are.

Arrakis: This one caters to founder Otis' tastes. He's a big fan of Frank Herbert's '70s science fiction tome, Dune. In his review, he called it "an epic tale of intrigue, religion, and human nature." Difficult concept to pull off, though. We settled with three posters from the movies. Perhaps in the future we can add a sand pit.

Seth Takes a Well-Earned Break

Sherlock Holmes Library: Move over, dear Watson, we'd like to take a seat. The library is a fun place to ponder big questions from the safety of comfy brown chairs and prop your feet up on cushy footrests. We solve the latest challenges for Goodreads in this book-lined sanctuary.

Ready, Set, Blast Off!

The Great Glass Elevator: We took this oddly shaped little room in the far corner of the office and transformed it into a space-age take on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Weird candy-colored chairs, a spider-like table, and decal buttons leading you wherever you'd like to go!

Misty Falls in Love, One More Time


And the final piece of the puzzle: Pemberley.
We wanted a female author who has captured the hearts of thousands of readers; Jane Austen was an easy choice. The iconic Pride and Prejudice has been immortalized by Bollywood, reborn as a spoiled Beverly Hills teen, become part of the canon of many actors' serious work—Olivier, Firth, Knightley—rehashed on YouTube, even spawned a whole new subgenre of the zombie thing with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And well, a lot of us in the office are true-blue fans. The Pemberley room boasts a few hunting reproductions, a portrait of the lovely Ms. Austen, a reproduction of a romantic scene from an old version of the book, and a giant poster of Firth’s head—with his co-stars in the background.

We've just settled in, but let's face it, we may be moving offices again soon. Any ideas for an additional set of conference rooms? What fabulous environments from books would you like to escape into? We're looking for magical places that can help us dream up big ideas for Goodreads!
Live Video Chat with Timothy Ferriss, Today at 2pm ET/11am PT
Posted by Patrick on January 21, 2013 175283

Join us today at 2pm ET/11am PT for a live video chat with bestselling author Timothy Ferriss. We'll be discussing his latest book The 4-Hour Chef.

Click here to watch a recording of the chat.
Join the 2013 Reading Challenge
Posted by Jessica on January 01, 2013 603238

Ring in the new year: The century is officially a teenager! What will you do with your 2013? January is that magical time of goal-making. Will you learn a new language or commit to the gym twice a week? More importantly, how many books will you read? Make a reading resolution with the 2013 Reading Challenge, and Goodreads will help you hit your target.

Simply set a goal, any goal—it can be as low or high as you want—and Goodreads will track your progress. We'll let you know when you're falling behind and when you're out ahead! Be as aggressive or conservative as you like. The average goal set in 2012 was 58 books for the year (approximately a book per week), but we see a wide range of targets.

And if you need to pad your to-read list, there are a plethora of ways to find books on Goodreads! You can try out your personalized recommendations, which only need 20 rated books before you can recieve reading suggestions based on your personal taste. Or, browse the winners and nominees of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards. And don't forget to peruse the thousands of lists on Listopia and enter giveaways to win brand-new books! We also recommend that you browse for groups reading your to-read books or groups near you to find a great place for discussion.

Now in its third year, our reading challenge is such an inspiring indicator of reading enthusiasm. In 2011, 154,169 participants pledged to read more than 10 million books. In 2012, 303,232 participants pledged to read 17.8 million books. And we expect 2013 to blow past these numbers!

There's something about the sound of "2013" that truly feels like the future. And since the apocalypse didn't come on 12/21/2012, let's embrace the new year and all it has to offer. How many books will you pledge?


Goodreads 2012 By the Numbers: An Infographic
Posted by Patrick on December 27, 2012 175283



It's been a big year for Goodreads. Not only did we double in size—from 6.5 million members to more than 13 million—we saw our members pass a major milestone: 20 million reviews written. To celebrate, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of the big books and events from the year on Goodreads. What were the most-reviewed books? What books did book clubs love? Who were the quotable authors? Our year-in-review infographic has all this and more!
Do Good with Goodreads This Holiday Season
Posted by Elizabeth on December 19, 2012 5

As the year winds down and you make it through the fantastic crush of present buying, traffic, and parties, there's finally a chance to steal a minute and quietly think about the past 12 months: What have you done with your year? How many books have you read? Which stories captured your imagination? But perhaps now is the most important moment to take a deep breath and think about what you're thankful for.

One of our core goals at Goodreads is to make a positive difference in the world, whether it's by connecting someone with a great book that helps them decide what they want to be when they grow up (even if you are 80!), or helping a kid in a disadvantaged country have access to school supplies and reading material. Small or vast, global or local, we feel that even a small step in the right direction will have an invisible—but important—ripple effect. It's not the results that matter so much, just getting out there and helping build momentum for a better global community.

Every month we feature a different organization in our newsletter that's helping to change lives through reading. If you are reader, a lover of the written word, or simply want a tangible way to give someone a nice memory this holiday season, here's an opportunity to revisit the nonprofits that we highlighted in 2012 and see if you would like to make a donation. It's not too late to make reading part of someone's life! Happy Holidays, everyone!

January

You helped foment World Book Night 2012, in which thousands of volunteers got together to give away books and encourage reading in your community.



A tutor-student pair working on Reading Partners curriculum in Oakland, CA.

February

Focusing on children from low-income communities, Reading Partners funnels struggling readers into free tutoring programs that offer one-on-one instruction.



Students in Lesotho enjoy their books from the African Library Project.

March

With just 1,000 gently used books, $500 for shipping costs, and help from African Library Project, anyone can start a library in rural Africa, where many children grow up without books. The African Library Project profile in our newsletter was so successful, they wrote the people of Goodreads a personal thank you note!



A pediatrician uses a new book to assess developmental milestones during a checkup.

April

Reach Out and Read hooks families on reading in an unexpected place: the doctor's office. Pediatricians help educate parents on the developmental importance of reading aloud.



Take the pledge and get a free download of the full-length track produced by the Roots with Chris Martin, John Legend, Regina Spektor, Jack Black, and more!

May

We helped raise awareness for children's literacy with the Book People Unite campaign led by Reading Is Fundamental.



A community in Nigeria receives a shipment of books.

June

The International Book Project sends 200,000 books annually to developing nations in South America, Asia, and Africa as well as underserved schools and libraries in the United States.



Fifteen-year-old Colleen Hamilton is one of six finalists who represented the San Francisco Bay Area at Brave New Voices. (Credit: Ashleigh Reddy)

July

Youth Speaks offers teens educational programs focused on spoken word poetry, including the annual Brave New Voices competition.




August

Worldreader donates e-readers and e-books to students across sub-Saharan Africa and helps spread the digital reading revolution to classrooms in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda!


Conservationists at the Bodleian Library.

September

For as little as £20 (just under $32), you can help digitize a page of the Bodleian Library's edition of William Shakespeare's First Folio with Sprint for Shakespeare.


Children, teachers, and founder James Owens at the grand opening ceremony of WIJABA's Riz Khan library in Sidoarjo, Indonesia.

October

The World Is Just a Book Away builds libraries and school programs in areas of Indonesia that sustained tsunami and earthquake damage.


Young writers read from their NaNoWriMo novels in Berkeley, California.

November

National Novel Writing Month's Young Writers Program helps young participants in the initiative by giving them access to online tools, advice from best-selling authors, and more.


A classroom in Balia Village, West Bengal.
Taking its name from the Hindi word for "hope," Asha for Education creates opportunities for underprivileged children in India through a variety of educational programs.


December

From military bases abroad to ships at sea, parents in the armed services can read to their children with a little help from United Through Reading, which sends videos home.






Live Video Chat with Jeff Kinney, Today at 2pm ET/11am PT
Posted by Patrick on December 14, 2012 175283

Join us today at 2pm ET/11am PT for a live video chat with best-selling author Jeff Kinney. We'll be discussing his enormously popular series of books Diary of a Wimpy Kid, as well as the movies being made from them.

Click here to watch the recording of the chat.
Live Video Chat with Robin Sloan, 2pm ET/11am PT
Posted by Patrick on December 11, 2012 175283

Join us today at 2pm ET/11am PT for a live video chat with author Robin Sloan. We'll be discussing his debut novel Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. If you are at all interested in books, reading, bookstores, technology, and the intersection of all those various things, this is one video chat you will not want to miss.

Click here to watch a recording of the chat.