Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 331-340 of 431)
Make reading fun: a literacy debate
Posted by Otis on July 29, 2008 1

I just read a very interesting article on reading. It mentioned a trend that many kids are now reading online instead of printed books. One reason given was that:

"'The Web is more about a conversation,' he said. “Books are more one-way."

I think this is dead on. This is one of the main goals of Goodreads: to bring the conversation to books. And we're always looking for better ways to make reading more fun.

If you have any ideas, please post your ideas here. Would you like to see reading a book as a group activity with a conversation built-in?

New feature: Listopia
Posted by Otis on July 28, 2008 1

Goodreads has a new way to explore books, which we are cleverly calling Listopia. Listopia is basically a whole lot of lists of books, each one being ordered by members votes. Each member who votes on a list can order their individual votes, which are then used to generate the order of the master list.

We think this will be a great new way for members to share their favorite books with others, and create some really great content around books. Already there are some great lists being created, such as Best Books Ever, and its antithesis The Worst Books of All Time.

But the best lists are the more focused ones: Best utopia, dystopia, and other world fiction, Best Young Adult Novels, Best Historial Fiction, or The Movie was better than the Book.

The New York Times bestseller list can show you what books are selling well at Barnes & Noble. But only Listopia can show you what books people like in any imaginable genre.

Listopia was inspired by two things. The first was Michael was picking sci-fi books to read off a "Best Science Fiction books" site he found online. That didn't seem right - Goodreads should have that kind of data! The other was after I spent a little time on Digg and Mahalo. Digg uses members to determine what news is hot, and Mahalo is a "Human Powered Search Engine". And it seemed obvious that we needed a "Human Powered Book Recommendation Engine". Listopia is version one of our HPBRE.

librarians fight crime!
Posted by Jessica on July 12, 2008 603238

Not all book worms get to be Indiana Jones, but some do fight for justice!

On June 16, a none-too-smart British man walked into the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. with one of Shakespeare's precious First Folios (only 230 copies in the world) and asked the librarians there - a collection of world-class Shakespeare experts - to determine the book's value. Smooth move, idiot. The librarians examined the book and realized that this First Folio had been stolen from Durham University in 1998, so they called the FBI!

A great article in the Washington Post asks this important question, "Why would someone bring a stolen Shakespeare to the place where the theft was most likely to be detected?"

What do you think? Is this man the original thief? Evidence: he lives 15 miles from the scene of the crime in a house crammed with rare books.

Or is he a dupe who's been paid off? Evidence: he has a Ferrari parked in his driveway, and seriously, no one is that dumb, right? He must not have known it was stolen.

Or maybe he had a guilty conscience, and as a true book lover he had to return the folio? Either way, three cheers for the Folger librarians!
First Reads giveaway - more copies available!
Posted by Jessica on July 01, 2008 603238

If you haven't already signed up, you have about 24 hours left to enter to win our inaugural First Reads giveaways.

Up for grabs:

The Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess
(due to the large demand, we just increased the number of available copies).

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
and The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton

Stayed tuned for future giveaways!
more event goodness
Posted by Otis on June 12, 2008 1

We made a bunch of changes to the event lists recently. Now you can see who is coming to an event and how they responsed (yes/no/maybe/unresponded). Similar to Evite, you can also set a reminder email for your events.

We have high hopes the improvements will help bookclubs and local meetups get together more easily. Authors doing signings or other appearances should also find it easier to create interest in their events.

New way to shelf your books
Posted by Otis on June 11, 2008 1

We launched a new interface for adding books to your shelves last week. You should now find it much easier to add books to your to-read shelf, or add a book to multiple shelves at once - both highly requested features!

A quick usability study:

Problems with the old shelves UI were:
- Members often didn't understand that a book had to be on one of three default shelves (read, to-read, currently-reading)
- Members often didn't know they could create their own shelves
- To add a book to the 'to-read' shelf (our most popular shelf by far) it took several clicks

The new solution:
- A new dropdown that visually makes clear that the default shelves are exclusive and others are not.
- The new dropdown also makes adding a new shelf much more apparent
- A hover menu over the 'add to my books' button that easily with one click lets members choose read, to-read, or currently-reading.

Note: Some tag-savvy members sometime ask why we didn't just call our shelves tags - after all, they are essentially the same thing, with a slightly more constricted interface. The answer is that tags are just still not mainstream. They are getting more so, but why make it confusing for the 70% of the popular that doesn't know what a tag is - when they all know what a shelf is?

New hover menu to easily add a book:

New "dropdown" to edit shelves:

Old add/edit shelf dropdown:

Allen County Public Library Video Tour of Goodreads
Posted by Otis on June 11, 2008 1

Some Goodreaders who work for the Allen County Public Library made some really nice video tours of Goodreads. They were too good to avoid posting here - so enjoy!

part 1

part 2

JK Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech
Posted by Otis on June 09, 2008 1

Just listened to it - good stuff if you haven't seen it yet!

Graduation speeches are funny things. Graduates are ready to get out of there, and a few tidbits of advice from some bigwig probably isn't really going to change their career paths. But I think they can be useful to look back on. My favorite all time is from one of my role model's: Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. Steve basically said to follow your passions - wherever they might lead. Advice that I agree with fully :)

Rowling's first message was that it's ok to fail, and that the only way to succeed to is first fail. Thomas Edison had a similar quote. Some quotes that resonated with me:

"Failure meant the stripping away of the nonessential."

"You might be driven more by a fear of failure than a desire to succeed." (I'm reading the book Sway by Ori Brafman right now and this resonated.)

"It is impossible to live without failure. Unless you live so cautiously that you avoid life - in which case you fail by default."

JK Rowling hasn't written a book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - but if she follows her own advice I think we'll see her start to give back to the world. She closed with a powerful message of the social responsibility of those who have the power to make a difference. A great quote was "We do not need magic to transform our world".

Read the full text here.
Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours
Posted by Jessica on June 03, 2008 603238

Amid all the insultingly obvious product placement in the new Sex & The City movie (I laughed, I cried, I abso-f***ing-lutely loved it), I was thrilled to see Carrie Bradshaw reading and cherishing a book. A real book! For a heroine who writes for a living, Carrie seems to spend more time out on the town than in bed reading. So this was a welcome sight.

But is it a real book? A quick Google search reveals that no one is exactly sure what book she's reading. Here are the top two candidates:

1) Love Letters of Great Men and Women
2) 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

Either way, you're sure to get a huge sampling of passionate reading. Who needs Mr. Big when you can read about the loves of Benjamin Franklin, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and even Jack Kerouac?

Other intriguing love letter anthologies found on Goodreads:
1) Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See
2) Four Letter Word (collection of fictional letters from great writers like Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, and Jonathan Lethem)
3) Love Letters: An Anthology

Write your reviews and tell us which one is the juiciest!
Goodreads at BookExpo
Posted by Otis on May 27, 2008 1

BookExpo is in our backyard this year - Los Angeles! The Goodreads team will be running around at the conference on thursday & friday. If you'd like to schedule something to meet us please drop an email to

We're also organizing an informal meet-up after the festivities on Friday. Please join us for some drinks - details here!