Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 351-360 of 434)
Does JK Rowling own Harry Potter?
Posted by Otis on April 16, 2008 1

In a recent article in the New York Times titled Rowling to Testify in Trial Over Potter Lexicon, it was announced that JK Rowling is suing a small publishing house (RDR Books) that was planning to publish a Harry Potter Encyclopedia. The book was to be based on the content from the website The Harry Potter Lexicon, by a Mr. Vander Ark. Now this doesn't sound right at all - has JK lost it?

Fan fiction is a huge genre. I went through a whole phase in middle school of reading dozens of books that continued the Star Wars series. There is even a Star Wars Encyclopedia. Did all those books have to kick back to George Lucas? I don't know - but I wouldn't guess Lucas cared either way - the more fans got into it the more movies he would sell.

So if fan fiction is a huge genre, it appears JK Rowling can't own Harry Potter. She attempts to explain on her website:

"From what I understand, the proposed book is not criticism or review of Harry Potter's world, which would be entirely legitimate – neither I nor anybody connected with Harry Potter has ever tried to prevent such works being published. It is, we believe, a print version of the website, except now the information that was freely available to everybody is to become a commercial enterprise.

It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author's hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else's work, it does not become theirs to sell."

Ah-ha. The lexicon, claims Rowling, has no original content. So perhaps Rowling *does* own Harry Potter - the Harry Potter described in her books. If fanfic fans want to build on that Harry Potter, and create something original, then there are no problems. So all you fans of Harry Potter that want to write some stories, breathe easy, JK won't be coming for you!
Is reading dead?
Posted by Otis on April 12, 2008 1

A journalist asked me the other day "Do you think reading is dead?". I'm aware people have the perception that people reading less these days. And it doesn't help that the National Endowment for the Arts keeps releasing studies that say so.

Personally I don't think its true for most people - if you like to read you will always read, even if you don't have much time now - you will later.

My favorite answer to that journalists question is to spout off something about reading just needing a social conduit. With mass-media, like American Idol or whatever movies are in theater, we can always find common ground with other people. But the chances that we are reading the same books at the same time is low. But if we were both on Goodreads it might be able to spark a conversation about books.

But I think there is another reason reading isn't dead that I don't get to talk about much, probably because it sounds nerdy. I'm one of those crazy people who likes to *learn*. Learn about new places, people, cultures, ideas - whatever. The things I've learned in books have helped define me as a person. And I'm always able to take away ideas from whatever I'm reading to attack the problems I'm facing in the real world.

Some people wouldn't think that you can learn things from a work of fiction - but learning is an experiential process. That means we remember things by associating them with how we learned them. Conversely, that also means we need to experience things to really learn them. And if you have an active enough imagination, a good book is all you need.

I just read a a very well-written blog posted titled How to Fuel Your Idea Machine that put it's finger on how reading helps us even better - go read it!

A choice quote:

"Reading books, fiction and non-fiction, fuels your idea machine. It gives you fodder to think with. The brain is essentially nothing more than a computer (albeit much more complicated); it takes an input, processes it and produces an output. In other words, you can’t create ideas without inputs."

So is reading dead? Not to me :)

1 like · like 1 comment
New unread messages folder
Posted by Otis on April 08, 2008 1

Now it's a snap to see which topics in your favorite groups have new messages since you've last checked!

This is a huge change, as makes it so much easier for members who follow groups regularly to see what they've missed. We only wish we launched this sooner!

The Goodreads Never-Ending Book Quiz
Posted by Michael on April 03, 2008 73

I'm proud to anounce the brand new

Never-ending Book Quiz

You can enter in new trivia, compare results with your friends, and generally have a lot of fun!

Check it out!

reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac
Posted by Jessica on April 01, 2008 603238

Admit it. We all do it. Before a first date, a quick Google search of your date's name can be extremely informative. Maybe you'll find his past triathlon times (sexy), criminal record (not sexy), and maybe his entire bookshelf catalogued on Goodreads -- a true mother lode of information.

How do you interpret this information? Are there certain books or writers whose presence would incite your passion? On the flip side, would you cancel the date based on a glowing review of a book you hated?

Currently topping the New York Times most emailed list is an essay by Rachel Donadio about literary dealbreakers for romance, explaining that "listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding" on social networking sites. Hundreds of people have posted on her blog to share their personal dealbreakers (Ayn Rand, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dan Brown are most frequently cited as writers that kill the mood). But plenty of people have also written in to say that dating is hard enough without adding literary snobbery into the mix.

The "compare books" tool on Goodreads allows you to see how similar your bookshelves are to anyone else's. Many Goodreads members send friend requests to readers with similar tastes. But what's the proper threshold? 25% similarity? 50%? 75%? If I find a reader with 100% compatibility, does that mean he's my soulmate?

Good luck interpreting the statistics of love. For now, my only dealbreaker is if he says he doesn't like to read at all.

Have you met someone special on Goodreads? Are your Goodreads bookshelves an archive of a solitary pastime or a public representation of your identity? Tell us your stories in the Goodreads Feedback group!
top friends
Posted by Otis on April 01, 2008 1

We're happy to announce that we just launched a feature that I personally have been waiting for for a long time - top friends! Top friends let you choose which of your friends are 'top friends', and then you can choose to see updates from just those friends on your Goodreads homepage. Your profile page will also show your top friends first.

One of the biggest problems a social network faces at it matures is that as members use the site and make friends their friend lists grow with lots of people they don't actually know. This is a particular problem for Goodreads, because book recommendations are really best from friends - people you really know (or have come to know).

So we're very excited about top friends, because now you can be a little less picky about accepting friends, without worrying about missing updates from those you really care about!

To start using top friends, click on the 'friends' tab and use the checkboxes to choose your top friends. Then navigate to the homepage and click the 'top friends' toggle at the top! Don't worry - your friends won't know if they are a top friend or not.

Goodreads hits 1 million members!
Posted by Otis on March 31, 2008 1

Lots of great news this morning! Goodreads finally hit 1 million registered members - and we were listed as the 18th most useful website by the Daily Telegraph.

Goodreads has constantly surprised us by fast it's grown, and how passionately people like it. Members have added an astounding 18 million books to their profiles! Nearly two million of those are on the to-read shelf which is one of Goodreads' most popular features. After all, Goodreads excels at helping people find good books to read!

But Goodreads isn't all about just cataloging and shelving your books. It's also a great way to interact with other people who like the same stuff you do. Members have created over 3,000 groups in all kinds of genres. Popular book clubs have been formed for fans of Sci-fi, Gilmore Girls, Young Adult, Harry Potter, Cookbooks, Horror, Sailing novels, and much more.

My favorite group however is the Goodreads Feedback group - it's where we get to know the people who care about Goodreads - and make the product better, one tweak at a time. So a heartfelt thank you to everyone who's participated in the site - but especially to those who have helped out in the feedback group - we owe it all to you!
Goodreads on FriendFeed
Posted by Otis on March 24, 2008 1

Just got word that FriendFeed just added Goodreads as a source. This means that you can now follow what your friends are reading as well as a host of other things using FriendFeed. There are a ton of social network feed aggregators out there, but FriendFeed seems to be one of the higher quality ones.
Goodreads on NPR
Posted by Otis on March 21, 2008 1

NPR's All Things Considered show did a story yesterday about Goodreads and the book social networking phenomenon called Web Sites Let Bibliophiles Share Books Virtually.

Several book social networks were mentioned in the piece, however it closed with several quotes about Goodreads, and we were very pleased with it. It was amazing to see my 30 minutes of interview condensed to two quotes!

The best part of the piece is that I think NPR's audience is perfect for Goodreads. So hopefully a few more people who were commuting yesterday and caught the show will read a book when they get home instead of turning on the tube. If you need a recommendation on what to read, we can help :)

As an aside, one rather hilarious blogger had a funny take on NPR's audience in a post about public radio.

ps. NPR just pointed out to me that the story is #1 on NPR's top 25 emailed list!

Posted by Otis on March 21, 2008 1

We got an email the other day from the folks running an interesting online event called Pulse Blogfest. Now we get lots of these types of emails lately, but this one actually had some interesting content and got me thinking.

The "blogfest" seems to be a collection of dozens of authors in the Young Adult category answering various questions about their work, their inspiration, etc. We've started to host online Author Q&A's lately, and I think its a lot of fun for fans to actually connect with authors. I like their idea of collecting a group of authors in a category and doing a shotgun approach of generating interview content. Maybe Goodreads will have to try a "blogfest" sometime!

Goodreads is primarily a place for readers, but the number of authors on the site is growing quickly. We want to continue helping to build bridges between the two worlds, but only if we can do it without sacrificing any quality on the reader end. Any feedback on how to do so is always appreciated in the comments or in the Feedback Group!

Here was a choice answer to the question "What is the strangest thing you have ever gotten inspiration from?" from the Blogfest:

"The idea for Angels on Sunset Boulevard came from visiting an In-n-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard one night at around one in the morning. I was just struck by the diversity of kids in the place, everyone from Beverly Hills princesses in their Porsche Cayennes to these skater-rat kids with tattoos doing flips in the parking lot. It was really cool, and really young—(some of the kids looked like they were twelve years old!) and it made me wonder—who were all these kids? What did they do at night? And it sparked the idea for the book...that there was some secret cult in Los Angeles that all kids from every background belonged to."

I've been to that In-n-Out, and agree it was very interesting!