Goodreads Blog
blog posts (showing 341-350 of 454)
Rebranding Books at Bookninja
Posted by Ken-ichi on October 21, 2008

[image error]The good folks at Bookninja have been running a contest: rebrand your favorite authors and books to appeal to a broader audience of supposedly simpler tastes! The finalists are hilarious. I found the rebranding of Cormac McCarthy's The Road particularly awesome.
October Newsletter: Rock the Vote With Goodreads!
Posted by Elizabeth on October 14, 2008

October Newsletter

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that these are important times. The rocky nature of the economy, the situation in Iraq, health care at home, all of these issues affect each and every one of us. It’s scary. We could be at the edge of a great abyss, or at the beginning of a meteoric ascension. It’s up to us.

I think we all know that this election is deeply important. At Goodreads we wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of the current climate with a newsletter that would help our members become as informed as possible by November 4th. That’s a tall order.

Right now there are major issues in the information world that make it hard for the average voter. First of all, whom can you trust? I think that with the decline in newspapers (and as a former member of the Los Angeles Times, I can tell you that newspapers have become quite a stressful place to work), consumers are becoming more and more wary of the information they receive. On the news production side, reporters know that their jobs are in jeopardy—why should they write something that will rock the boat? There are also fewer and fewer layers of editors to look over a story and eliminate any bias. Fact checking and librarian teams at media organizations are being cut or eliminated. Then you have blogs, which for the most part have no form of repercussion for inaccuracy and defamation. We have so much information available to us, but no idea what is really the truth.

When people watch the debates they feel the same sense of helplessness. Everyone has become such a good campaigner. But what will they do when elected into office?

Knowing what is right and what is important to you has become even more of a personal journey. We are now truly responsible for our own education. There is no Walter Cronkite to tell us what to believe. We have to actively seek out information and be ruthless when discarding falsities—just the thought of it makes me tired.

Luckily we have places like Goodreads. This site is about real people helping each other. The best place to start your re-education is to get on the site and start looking at political books from across the spectrum. If you look at enough reviews, you’ll begin to discern books that can help you learn about the issues that you care about. And we really encourage you to try and branch out and read something contrary to your values. Only by challenging your beliefs will you grow.

In our newsletter, we interviewed two political writers, one conservative, Dick Morris, and one liberal, Thomas Frank. We also let our readers decide which red, blue and purple books were the most important to read. In addition, we’ve provided a link to a user-generated list called Best Books to Become an Informed Voter.

It’s important to know the issues. And this is the year to do it. Check it out!

Good night and good luck,

Welcome to Ken-ichi!
Posted by Otis Chandler on October 14, 2008

We're happy to announce a new face at Goodreads: Ken-ichi Ueda! Ken-ichi comes to us from Berkeley where he made a really cool site for naturalists.

Here's a bio he wrote:

Once upon a time, Ken-ichi thought he would be a paleontologist. Then he thought he'd be a computer scientist. Then a biologist. Then a cartographer. Then an informaticist. Then a biodiversity informaticist! Now he is a web developer. But while his goals grew and shifted, he always knew he was a reader: from Dune to Pride &
, from field guides to programming manuals, Ken-ichi loves a
good book. When he's not breathlessly awaiting the next David
novel, you can find him exploring the land and see of California in search of spineless wonders!
Status Updates: what page are YOU on?
Posted by Otis Chandler on October 08, 2008

We just launched a very exciting new feature: now you can add your status for books you are currently reading. Adding your reading progress has been a top requested feature, and we think the implications of this one are huge.

Similar to Twitter or Facebook, which both pose the question "What are you doing right now?", we are asking "What page are you on right now?". Members can micro-blog their thoughts about books as they read. They can also add what page they are on and put virtual notes in the margins as they progress through a book.

The really exciting thing about status updates is that they put everyone literally on the same page. We think it will help reading become even more of a social activity. Members will be able to find other people who are not just reading the same book, but also people are reading the same chapter. They can discuss a book with their friends or members of a book club as they read. They can share the suspense of a great plot twist together. It will foster deeper discussion and more excitement about a book. We also think it will inspire our members to read even more since it will introduce that element of competition (how fast can *you* read?).

I'm personally excited about this feature because I think it will help me keep track of and share my thoughts more efficiently. Often when I'm reading a book I read a passage that stimulates a thought worth writing down. How many books are full of great margin notes that nobody else ever sees? I'm excited to now have a great way to share them with others.

One other exciting part of the launch is that we have included the ability to sync your Goodreads reading status to Facebook or Twitter. To set it up, visit your my account page.

We've been beta-testing update statuses for the last week, and have been very encouraged to see over 10,000 added already! Please give us any feedback you have in the Goodreads Feedback Group.

To add your own updates, make sure you have a book in your 'currently-reading' shelf, then visit the Goodreads Homepage, or the page for book you're reading.

Here's a screenshot of my last update:

Fiction Rule of Thumb
Posted by Michael Economy on October 01, 2008

The xkcd webcomic web comic today was not only hilarious (as it usually is), but also book related so I figured I'd repost.

Fiction Rule of Thumb


Neal Stephenson interview
Posted by Otis Chandler on October 01, 2008

We recently interviewed one of my favorite authors, Neal Stephenson about his new book Anathem.

I just loved one of Neal's answers, and had to re-post it here. The full text of the answer is below, but basically Neal said that the internet is creating an "intellectual underclass", perpetuated by bad information through email. I think information accountability is going to be one of the biggest tasks of the future of the internet.

Neal Stephenson interview question:

Goodreads: Snow Crash is lauded for its anticipation of (or influence over) later creations in software and gaming, such as Second Life. Where do you see the Internet going in five to ten years? Any predictions or trends you have observed?

Neal Stephenson: I see this as more and more of a social class issue. I'm remembering the advent of late '60s/early '70s drug culture when I was a kid. Authority figures would try to scare us away from drugs, and whether or not we were actually using drugs, we would just laugh at them because their threats and warnings seemed so overwrought. We all knew people who used various kinds of drugs but managed to stay healthy and out of trouble. Much later, it became obvious to me that the middle-class kids I tended to hang out with were cushioned from possible negative effects of drugs by their intellectual, financial, and social capital. Their parents and friends and neighbors kept an eye on them; Dad was always there to bail them out; they knew lawyers and doctors who could get them out of trouble. But that wasn't true of lower-class drug users. Poor people and communities really did suffer terrible effects from drugs because they lacked that cushion.

How does this apply to the Internet? Well, a few years ago we heard (and we still sometimes hear) dire warnings about the possible negative effects of the Internet, but we've gotten into the habit of laughing them off. We all know how to discern spam from legitimate email; we self-police on Wikipedia; we develop a sixth sense for knowing when a web page was put up by a crackpot. So I'm pretty complacent and pretty positive about the Internet as long as I'm hanging out with technically savvy Internet users. But when I come into contact with users who aren't so technically savvy, I'm shocked by how gullible they are and how effectively they are being manipulated by bad actors who know how to exploit that gullibility. There is a huge political campaign being waged right now in the form of E-mail smears that are being forwarded around the Internet like chain letters. They are obviously coming out of campaign boiler rooms somewhere, but they are sent around from person to person in social networks that fly way under the radar of MySpace, Facebook, etc., and many of the recipients are just unbelievably naive about them — they'll believe any kind of accusation against a candidate, so long as it's contained in one of these E-mails. That's only one example of how technically non-savvy people are being gulled and used on the Internet. I think we are headed for a situation in which we have a distinct intellectual/information underclass, created and perpetuated by bad Internet memes, and that the vector for those memes is going to be E-mail rather than Web pages.

What's the funniest novel ever?
Posted by Otis Chandler on September 17, 2008

The New York Times posted an interesting article the other day titled Whats the funniest novel ever?. They had some good ideas, most of which I must admit I haven't read. Although I was surprised that my pick, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, wasn't listed!

I was immediately curious what Listopia would show - and was happy to see that members have created a pretty comprehensive Best Humorous Books list. The current winner? Me Talk Pretty One Day.

David Foster Wallace
Posted by Elizabeth on September 15, 2008

Today Goodreads mourns the loss of author David Foster Wallace. What's wonderful about Wallace, besides his fabulous, fiercely intelligent, hyperventilating prose, is his ability to inspire so many people. Novels like Infinite Jest
and Consider the Lobster show how powerful his work was.

Share your thoughts in the David Foster Wallace Group,Infinite Jest Discussion or The New York Times Blog

Posted by Otis Chandler on September 11, 2008

Last week we launched a great new feature for our bookclubs - polls!

Polls were a much requested feature, and will be very useful for bookclubs that want to use them to help decide which book to read next, or which characters people like or dislike as they are reading a book. Polls are just the beginning of a big push to really improve our groups.

Unlike our very popular Never-ending Book Trivia Quiz, polls aren't intended for general consumption, instead they mostly live inside the groups that create them. Although we may build a never-ending poll feature later on :) We think polls will be a great way for members in bookclubs to interact more around the books and characters they are reading about!

Here is a sample poll from the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club:

30 million books added
Posted by Otis Chandler on September 11, 2008

This week we reached 30 million books added to member profiles - a monumental number!

The 30 millionth book was The Crucible by Arthur Miller and was added by Paul, a Goodreads member with 37 books.

About 10% of the books added have an associated review. We don't know how many reviews other sites out there have, but if we take for example Stephanie Meyers new Breaking Dawn book, we see that Goodreads has 7,410 reviews, and Amazon has 3,062. Not bad! If you're into Twilight don't forget to check out the Twilight Lovers group.

There are over half a million books marked as currently-reading. The currently-reading shelf is a great barometer of which books are popular - it reads like a list of best-sellers, except it's based on what members are actually reading, instead of what they are buying. We find that to be pretty cool.