Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 271-280 of 447)
Catalog books you own - and bookswap!
Posted by Otis on December 09, 2009 1

We're proud to announce two very big new features - the ability to catalog books you own, and bookswap.

Cataloging books you own is a big shift for Goodreads, which has thus far been all about what you've read. Though it was telling that the most popular shelf after the default shelves is the own shelf. Clearly people have a strong desire to distinguish what they own from what they've read — and now you can do both on your my books page!

We're really excited about bookswap, as now you can easily share books with your friends or other Goodreads members. There are plenty of bookswap sites out there, and we thought long and hard about just integrating with them, but in the end we felt that in order to make the best possible user experience we had to build it ourselves. And of course, once we built books you own it was just another checkbox on top of that! Well, maybe it's a little more complicated than that :) One unfortunate complication is that in order to properly do the shipping labels we had to restrict the feature to members in the United States. We hope to add global support over the next few months.

We have a theory with bookswap, and it's that members are more interested in getting free books and getting rid of books they don't have shelf room for than they are in participating in a credit system. Instead of credits, Goodreads works on honesty and karma. Members who request a book get a book for nothing more than the price of shipping & handling. Members who send a book get that good feeling of having passed literature on to another person—and they can feel ok about requesting a book from another member. All member profiles will show how books they have sent, received, and listed, so if someone is a mooch it will be apparent.

To get started with bookswap:


Here are some popular titles available:





We'd love any and all feedback in the Goodreads Feedback group!
December Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on December 08, 2009 5

The December Newsletter!

For the month of December we wanted to do a newsletter with a focus on giving. It’s a pretty obvious connection, but the fact that both author interviews ended up being about girls’ education was a surprise.

Greg Mortenson got the ball rolling. He agreed to speak to us only a few days after being discharged from the hospital and also put us in touch with Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I would argue that what makes Mortenson powerful as a motivator and speaker is his ability to use stories to express the urgency of an issue. In a way, it’s a literary approach to development. His tale about young girls who read the newspaper to their mothers painted a vivid picture for me about mothers and daughters and that special bond.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are crack reporters who seek to make a tangible difference. Their meticulous approach to journalism ensures that their conclusions are carefully researched and thoroughly thought out.

Please do check out Mortenson’s and Kristof/WuDunn’s charity organizations (Central Asia Institute, Pennies for Peace, and Half the Sky Movement) if you are interested in getting involved this holiday season.

On the engineering front, it’s been six months in the development phase, but we are thrilled to announce that we have launched Goodreads Bookswap! The new feature is a perfect complement to the holidays; our swap system is based on the enjoyment of seeing your books go to a good home. I for one would rather send the book I just finished reading (Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert) to someone who wants to read it instead of letting it collect dust on my shelf or dropping it off at the local Goodwill. The section is brand new, so please be patient with us and contact us about any bugs or feature improvements. Unfortunately, Goodreads Bookswap is only available in the U.S. at this time, but we are working as fast as we can to make global Goodreads Bookswap a possibility!

The rest of the newsletter is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We asked Garrison Keillor, host of the homespun radio show A Prarie Home Companion, to recommend his favorite “gift books” this month. For Lit for Lat we ventured to South America for a novel about the tribulations of war in Colombia. Our Author Snapshot is about Sheramy Bundrick, whose debut novel Sunflowers is about Van Gogh, and the winning Poem of the Month is The Parrot-Ox by Jane Ellen Glasser. Check it out!

On behalf of the entire team at Goodreads (Otis, Michael, Jessica, Ken-ichi, Louise, Dave, Ben, Leilah, Rivka, and Tessa), I’d like to say that we wish you a safe and warm holiday season. Hopefully you will find comfort among the people you care about, and enjoy a bit of rest, relaxation, and of course, good books!

Thanks again for being a part of Goodreads and enjoy the December Newsletter.

-Elizabeth

November Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on November 16, 2009 5

November Newsletter!

Ever since we started Goodreads, Otis and I have hoped that the website would become a way to not only provide good reading recommendations, but also promote literacy and give back to the community—particularly to people with limited access to books or who have not yet learned to read.

Hence, this month we launched the newsletter feature, Do Good with Goodreads, a way to highlight a charity that promotes reading in some way. Room to Read is a groundbreaking organization, founded by John Wood, the author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children. They establish libraries, create local-language children’s literature, construct schools and provide education to girls. Please check the organization out. Mindful of the fact that our site is a global community, we hope to promote a variety of charities over time.

Our second new feature, "Author Snapshot," is also designed as a way to give back—this time to our members. We have so many official Goodreads authors, nearly 10,000, and many independent publishers and booksellers on our site that we felt that they deserved a spotlight as well. Each month, we’ll present an indie or debut author that is generating heat on the site. Gail Carriger, author of Soulless, a "stake-and-crumpets Victorian steampunk series” (to borrow the words of Althea), is our choice for the premiere issue.

The remainder of the newsletter presents some stalwart books and authors. Icons Barbara Kingsolver and John Irving both agreed to speak with Goodreads about their writing process. The answers, as always, are inspiring and unusual. I was particularly excited about “In Bed” with Jonathan Lethem, because we asked him for his favorite books about a subject that clearly drives his work, New York City.

For "Lit for Lat," we traveled to Israel this month, and our Movers & Shakers cover a swath of material, from vegetarianism with Jonathan Safran Foer, to alcoholism, garage bands, Thomas Cromwell and feminism post 1960. Hopefully there is something for everyone.

Finally, the winning poem this month is probably one of my favorites since we started producing the newsletter. Grassland by Goodreads Author S. Jane Sloat, was selected in the iPoetry! Group.

We hope you enjoy the November Newsletter!

-Elizabeth

new shelf chooser
Posted by Ken-ichi on November 05, 2009 216786

We recently launched a small update to the way we shelve books on Goodreads. Now when you click on "choose shelves," you should see a widget that will let you quickly search through all your shelves, scroll and select with either your mouse or arrow keys, and add new shelves. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier to add books to shelves.


Welcome to Louise Yang!
Posted by Otis on October 22, 2009 1

We have a new team member! Louise Yang joins us as a Software Engineer and rockstar bug fixer. Louise will be helping out on various engineering projects, and even though she's new to Ruby on Rails, she's already made a few contributions: new group rules, new group settings, new search tabs, and new inbox compose page.

Here is a bit more about Louise:

Louise went to Berkeley to study Linguistics.
She also studied CS and picked up some tricks.
When she's not coding, she cooks.
Her shelves are overflowing with books.
If you find a bug, it might be something she'll fix.

Please give her a big welcome!
October Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on October 06, 2009 5

This month we interviewed authors Audrey Niffenegger and Nick Hornby for our newsletter.

Audrey Niffenegger not only wrote the bestselling novel, The Time Travelers Wife, but also has a distinguished background in the visual arts. It’s unusual and exciting to talk to an author who is talented in disparate areas. Her new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, sounds deliciously creepy.

Our second author, Nick Hornby, has a broad appeal as well. After all, his debut memoir, Fever Pitch, is steeped in his own soccer obsession. According to FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), more than 265 million people in the world play soccer and as many of you know, their fans take the sport seriously. I remember going to my one and only European soccer game in Bologna, Italy. Since I was rooting for ACF Fiorentina, I sat in a chain-link cage while Bolognian spectators threw glass bottles at us. It was terrifying and well…a little bit exciting. Hornby’s later novels, High Fidelity and About a Boy, also garnered high marks. His new one, Juliet, Naked, explores rockstar fandom.

We also got "In Bed" this month with two very different authors, Eoin Colfer, of the Artemis Fowl series, and Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker's great grand-nephew. We asked them to name their favorite Science Fiction books and books about vampires, respectively. The vampire thing may be ubiquitous, but we figured if there were any month to touch on this trend, October would be the right one!

Please check out Movers & Shakers for some twisted fairytales, inspirational memoirs, and lush Edwardian sagas. And our Lit for Lat discovery this month is Supermarket by Satoshi Azuchi, an intriguing Japanese business novel set in the 1970s. Don’t forget to read our winning poem Lynette’s War, from the iPoetry! Poetry Contest .

We hope you enjoy our newsletter!

P.S. We will be interviewing Barbara Kingsolver next month. If you have any questions for the author of The The Poisonwood Bible and the Bean Trees, post them here!

Goodreads is much faster!
Posted by Otis on October 01, 2009 1

Goodreads has grown quite a lot in the last year, and to support our 2.5 million users and over 30 million monthly pageviews, we had to upgrade "what's under the hood" - and get a whole new set of servers!

Our new servers are lean, mean, and really freakin' fast. Oh - and did we mention SSD's? The change should help us continue to grow and handle more traffic - and it should also finally let us focus on new features instead of scaling problems!

Our old servers were rented from Media Temple, which we highly recommend for any small and growing site.


Here are some beautifully done shots of the new colo, taken by Michaels iphone, in between some intense sessions of installing software:







We like to imagine that Goodreads is now powered by something like this:




ps. This post in no way promises that we will still be fast in coming months if you all keep browsing more and more pages. But we like to think it will!
Scheduled maintenance tonight
Posted by Otis on September 30, 2009 1

Hi all,

We are moving to a new datacenter tonight, and Goodreads will be down from approximately 8:00pm pst to 11:00pm pst. Our poor old servers have served us well, but their time is past and we have some young, hungry, and very *fast* servers waiting to go.

We know Goodreads hasn't been the fastest of websites lately, and this should really improve things if it all goes well.

Wish us luck!




September Newsletter
Posted by Elizabeth on September 09, 2009 5

Finding the right balance of authors and books for our newsletter is always challenging. With 2.5 million members, we have every kind of reader imaginable.

Our goal then is for any reader to be able to find something recognizable in our newsletter, and we are constantly juggling genres to find the perfect mean of fiction and nonfiction.

This month we interviewed authors James Ellroy and Anita Diamant. The former is a crime writer with a naughty reputation, the latter, a journalist and author whose historical fiction showcases women in a new light.

We also got "In Bed" with the co-authors of Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, asking them for their favorite books about mothers and daughters.

Please check out Movers & Shakers for a provocative YA recommendation, and some very fine fiction and nonfiction new releases. And our winning poem, BODIES: THE EXHIBITION, sparked yet another heated discussion (scroll down) about the merit of rhyming poetry.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter!

P.S. We will be interviewing Audrey Niffenegger next month. If you have any questions for the author of The Time Traveler's Wife, post them here!
Sign into Goodreads with your Facebook or Google login
Posted by Otis on September 01, 2009 1

We've just fully launched a new feature we've been beta-testing for a while: the ability to login or register for Goodreads with your Facebook or Google login credentials!

This will be very useful for many members as it means less hassle of having to remember your password in order to use Goodreads.



Want us to add other OpenID providers? Mention them in the comments!