Goodreads Blog
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Join us for our first ever Live Video Chat with Cecil Castellucci - Tonight at 6 p.m. PST!
Posted by Patrick Brown on July 20, 2010

Today is a very big day on Goodreads, as it marks the first time we've hosted a live chat with an author. Over the past few years, we have hosted dozens of Author Q&A groups with authors like Paulo Coelho, Alexander McCall Smith, Lori Lansens and Garth Stein. But we've never done what we're doing tonight.

From 6 to 7 p.m. PST we will be chatting with author Cecil Castellucci over video. Anybody in the chat can ask Cecil a question and have it answered right there and then, live on video. Oh, the wonders of the internet age!

Join us from 6 to 7 p.m. tonight as we discuss Cecil's new books Rose Sees Red and Grandma's Gloves, as well as her writing process, the role music plays in her books, and much, much more!

Click here to join the chat tonight at 6!"
New Feature: Publish to Blog
Posted by Louise on July 07, 2010

Good news, WordPress users, you now have the ability to automatically publish your Goodreads review to your blog. This saves you valuable time since you no longer have to copy your review, log into your blog, and then paste it.

Step 1: update your blog settings page with your login credentials.

Step 2: write a review or edit an existing one.

Step 3: check the 'post to blog' box at the bottom of the review form.

post to blog checkbox


Step 4: admire your automatically published post on your blog.

Automagically generated post from goodreads


Questions? Comments? Voice them in this thread.
The Future of Book Reviewing
Posted by Otis Chandler on June 23, 2010

I'm heading to American Library Association's annual convention this weekend, among other things to participate in a panel titled Everyone's a Critic: The Future of Book Reviewing.

In preparation I ran a few stats that were interesting, and decided to share them ahead of time:
  • Goodreads has 100 million books cataloged
  • Of those, 7.4 million have associated text reviews.
  • 5.1 million of the 7.4 million text reviews are over 100 characters
  • 19% are on people's to read shelves.
  • 5% of the 100 million books are the The Twilight Series
  • The top 100 most popular books represent 18% of books cataloged
  • But there is a huge long tail, as the top 5,000 most popular books only represent 45% of books cataloged! The below graph only shows the top 5,000 books - the tail went too long to fit in a graph!


The long tail of books cataloged
Books added on Goodreads
y-axis: books cataloged
x-axis: popular books




So what is the future of book reviewing? Well that's what we'll discuss in the panel so I don't want to give it all away. But as you can see above, one aspect of it is that on sites with infinite distribution, like Goodreads, there are a *lot* more books that get attention!

I also believe that professional reviews still definitely have a place - they are just increasingly less for the average consumer and more for book professionals and tastemakers.

I may be biased, but I think Goodreads has the best book reviews on the web. (Aside: have you ever tried reading the one star reviews of a book you weren't sure about?). I think the reason is because members here write for a different audience than other review sites; their friends, and the Goodreads community. And the fact that we have nearly 20 million to-read books shows that members are using Goodreads as a book discovery engine to a large extent - and I think our reviews play a big part with that!

To check how many Goodreads members consume professional reviews, I ran a quick poll:

Do you read professional book reviews?

The answer seems to be that people do occasionally read professional reviews. Who are your favorite literary critics and why? What do you think is the future of book reviewing?


American Library Association

Update: The panel went well, and is now available online
Goodreads Records 100 Millionth Book Cataloged
Posted by Patrick Brown on June 22, 2010

Earlier this week, we passed a fairly significant milestone here at Goodreads -- we passed 100 million books cataloged on the site. That means that over 100,000,000 books have been added to our 3.6 million members' book shelves.

Obviously, this is no small thing. In under four years, our community has recorded more books than there are people in Germany. It's an impressive total, especially when one considers that each of those 100 million represents a book that someone thought enough of to add to their shelves. It's not 100 million cars or 100 million disposable razors, but 100 million thoughts or ideas. That's pretty great.

This milestone is also important for what it says about how the book world is changing. I did some back-of-the-envelope math, and if you figure the New York Times Book Review reviews about 20 books per week, it would take them a little over 96,000 years to get to all of the books our community has reviewed in a little under four. While obviously not every review is as long or involved as a review in the Times, that's still a lot of books getting some much needed attention. If the 100,000,000 number means anything, it's a clear indication that the now is the age of the reader. The average reader has more power now than ever before.

An obvious question is "What are people reviewing?" The book that has been added to the most shelves -- both in the US and internationally -- is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Over 400,000 people have added it to their shelves, meaning that it accounts for roughly 4% of the total books added on Goodreads. Two YA titans dominate the most-popular list, as J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer occupy the next two spots. One interesting fact: of the fifty most popular books on Goodreads, twenty-six are by women and twenty-four are by men. The most popular book by a Goodreads Author? The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, with over 180,000 ratings. It was also encouraging to see that so many of the most popular books are by living authors. Maybe that's why there are over 19 million books on our members' "to-read" shelves. Hopefully that means even more good reads in our future!

Check out the full list of the most popular books on Goodreads. What's the most popular in your country? Which books will be the most popular when we reach our 1 billionth review?
June Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on June 14, 2010

A quick recap of this month's newsletter:

We've got in-depth author interviews with Bret Easton Ellis of American Psycho and Less Than Zero fame, and Zappo's CEO Tony Hsieh.

For foodie book recommendations, hop "In Bed" with Kitchen Confidential author and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

If you're interested in some author one-on-one time, Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, Kathryn Wager, author of Dancing for Degas, and Julie Metz, author of Perfect, are all taking questions.

Movers & Shakers features books about a girl who can taste the emotions of those around her, what the internet is doing to our brains, and a post tsunami YA love story. Our Author Snapshot this month frames Hilary Thayer Hamann, author of Anthropology of an American Girl, our Do Good For Goodreads highlights a charity that donates books to children in Asia, and we traveled to Lebanon for our Literature at every Latitude.

We've also got trivia about The Great Gatsby, a Listopia's "Light But Not (Too) Dumb" list, and a beautiful poem, Carpe, Carpe, by J.D. Smith.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter!



Let the games begin! Books about soccer, South Africa, and the World Cup
Posted by Otis Chandler on June 11, 2010

The World Cup, the worlds most popular sporting event, kicked off today. The World Cup first took place in 1930, and has had 18 winners. It's a special event, bringing the world together and honoring the planets most popular sport: soccer - or as most of the world calls it, football.

In honor of that we took a look at what Goodreads has to help members that want to learn more about the World Cup, or soccer, or even the history of the host continent, Africa.

One place to start is with books that members have shelved as soccer books (130) or football books (367). There are definitely great titles in these lists.

By the way, did you know 42 of 45 English speaking countries that participate in FIFA call the sport Football? Australia even just changed from soccer to football in 2005. Even though the word "soccer" originated in England, Football is clearly the global name - I just wish there were a better name for that other sport we have here in the US - anyone got any good ideas?

There are at least two listopia lists that have some great books as well. The
first is a list of books about South Africa or Soccer. There are many good titles here, but the one that stuck out to me is The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt. This is a 992 page book that tells "the full story of soccer's rise from chaotic folk ritual to the world's most popular sport". One Goodreads reviewer said: "Like most Americans, I grew up with an indifference (some would say ignorance) to the passions of global football. For a variety of reasons, within the past two years I have found the sport to be one of the most fascinating expressions of athletic art and have, in my own way, become a devotee of the phenomenon."

The World Cup being in Africa is of course a great excuse to read some of the great books set in that continent. The Best African books is full of classics that shouldn't be missed, such as The Poisonwood Bible, Heart of Darkness, Out of Africa, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Power of One, and so many more!

Please let us know in the comments what your favorite soccer books or Africa books are!


Here is a montage of books from the list South Africa World Cup 2010:

Brilliant OrangeHow Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of GlobalizationThe Ball is Round: A Global History of SoccerSoccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in PowerSoccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular SportSpudCry, the Beloved CountryInverting the Pyramid: The History of Football TacticsFever PitchBloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English SoccerThe Glory Game: The New Edition of the British Football ClassicGarrincha: The Triumph & Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing HeroThe Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of ItalyLong Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson MandelaWinning at All Costs: A Scandalous History of Italian SoccerLife and Times of Michael KBrilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch FootballDisgraceAjax, the Dutch, the WarEl Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest FootballerKhayelitshaFeet of the Chameleon: The Story of Football in AfricaHow to Score: Science and the Beautiful GameON PENALTIES.European Fields: The Landscape of Lower League Football
Goodreads takes Manhattan with its first New York Literary Pub Crawl
Posted by Patrick Brown on June 04, 2010

Last week, the Goodreads team traveled to New York for our first ever event outside Southern California. After the success of our first Literary Pub Crawl we figured a similar event would be the perfect way to say hello to our New York City members. And we were right!

The evening began at Housing Works, as folks poured in, grabbed a drink and started mingling. It was great to see so many people eager to meet and talk about what they were reading! Much of the Goodreads team had just spent three whirlwind days at Book Expo America (BEA), the book industry's annual conference. This year, many people wanted BEA to open its doors to the people who actually make the industry go -- the readers. As I stood in Housing Works, surrounded by books from floor to ceiling, listening to writers and publishers talking to actual readers about their favorite books and what they were reading, it occurred to me that this is what many people wish BEA could be.

After an hour or so of bookish conversation, it was time for the readings to begin. Emily St. John Mandel kicked things off with a few pages from her new literary thriller The Singer's Gun. Amy King followed with a few poems, including some that were thematically realted to the night's festivities.



Finally, Colson Whitehead took the stage. He announced that he was going to read from his latest novel, Sag Harbor, "which has an average rating of 1.25 stars on Goodreads," he said (He was joking; the actual average star rating is 3.41). The passage he read was beautiful and hilarious and the perfect thing to send us off into the night.

Following the readings, we all headed to the other bars on the crawl. Some of us met new friends, some of us connected with old friends, and many of us had to explain why we were wearing stickers that said what book we were currently reading.

The event was a huge success, and a few literary celebrities turned out to do a bit of crawling. The Wall Street Journal even wrote about the event. It was a great evening, and thank you so much to all who attended! We hope to see you out at the next crawl.
Two New Widgets: A Reader Widget, and a Custom Widget
Posted by Louise on May 28, 2010

We're on a widget streak here at Goodreads these days. The Goodreads Reader now has its own widget, which you can access by clicking the "embed" button on any Goodreads Reader page. Check out this one of Alice in Wonderland:





Goodreads.com







The Goodreads Reader widget comes in handy when you want to link to a readable version of an e-book directly on your site.


The second, slightly less new widget is the Custom Widget, which you can get to by clicking My Account and then the "widgets" tab. True to its name, it's a more customizable javascript widget with a handful of options you can tweak to match the look of your blog.


A Custom Widget on Goodreads


Unfortunately, because it is a javascript widget, it will only work on blogging systems that support javascript.

Take the two widgets for a spin and tell us what you think.
Goodreads no longer blocked in Iran
Posted by Jessica Donaghy on May 10, 2010

In February 2010, we reported that Goodreads had fallen prey to Iran's widespread and controversial Internet crackdown. Iranian traffic on Goodreads plummeted the same week that Iran's government blocked access to Gmail. With the help of our community, we spread the word about this censorship, and the story earned mentions in the international press, including the Guardian, the Telegraph, and The New Yorker.

Goodreads Traffic in Iran—February to May 2010:


Now we are pleased to report that Iranian traffic on Goodreads has resumed and is climbing to reach normal levels. We can only conclude that we are no longer blocked. Thank you to all book lovers on Goodreads and beyond who helped to raise awareness of this issue. Let's hope Iranian access to Goodreads stays steady!
May Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on May 05, 2010

May Newsletter

What do you do when Charlaine Harris, Chuck Palahniuk and Isabel Allende all say that they will do interviews with Goodreads?

Well, apart from the spontaneous throwing of popcorn and resounding cheer that erupted at our office, you get down to work. With three interviews instead of our usual two we realized that this month, more than ever, highlighted the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny problem that our newsletter is simply too long.

The newsletter is a little bit different this month. We spent a great deal of time working out a new format that would give you more information in a compact form. It is our first pass at it, so expect some refinements in the months to come.

With the format changes, we also realized that we needed a place for the newsletter content to live outside of the newsletter—a place that we’ve given the working title of Book Lounge. We like the idea of being able to hang out in this area for as long as you like, nosing through bookish interviews, learning about authors, finding out about new Q&A’s and Movers & Shakers—all on one page. This is in early-stage development, so expect it to evolve. Hopefully we’ll be able to add lots of content from all of you in the future.

And let’s not forget the meat of the newsletter. Along with Harris, Palahniuk and Allende, Jen Lancaster sent us her list of top 5 favorite pop-culture books and Sebastian Junger sent us a more sobering selection, his list of the most powerful books about war. We also featured debut author Jean Kwok, who sounds like she survived a harrowing childhood, and traveled to Brazil, for an interesting take on the culture of celebrity. Alexander McCall Smith volunteered a week of his time to questions from Goodreads members, and don’t forget to check out OneKid OneWorld, (a charity that shares our penchant for combining words). It’s a foundation that helps education in Kenya and El Salvador. Finally, the winning poem of the month is Big Time by Paul Siegell.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter!

Elizabeth