Goodreads Blog

Goodreads Has Given Away Over 43,000 Free Books

Posted by Patrick Brown on August 16, 2010
The First Reads giveaway program is growing more popular by the month. Since June 2008 (when we first launched the program), publishers and authors have given away 43540 books on Goodreads (and that's not counting the hundreds that are available right now). In 2010 alone, we've given away over 20,000 free books. As you can see, the program has been growing steadily:



Yesterday, I was answering some customer service emails when I came across a message from a publisher. They were participating in our First Reads giveaway program, and they wanted to know if we thought it made a difference how many books they gave away. Do more people enter giveaways with more books offered? I didn't have a good answer to the question, so I decided to run some numbers.

The numbers revealed some very interesting things about the giveaway program. As you can see from the chart below, roughly the same number of people enter giveaways for a single book is offered as they do those where 20 books are offered.



There's a fairly noticeable jump when you giveaway 25 books -- those five extra copies typically generate another 100-plus entries (And in case you're wondering, we have a sample of more than 200 giveaways at the 1, 5, 10, 20, and 25 levels and a fair number at 30 and 50 as well, so the sample size is not that small). At the far end of the spectrum, you can see that giving away a LOT of books will, indeed, get you a lot of entries (though small sample size caveats apply).

So what does this mean for publishers and authors? Should they save a little cash and just giveaway a single book? The answer is no. Though offering more books doesn't tend to result in more entries, it does result in more reviews. The answer for this is pretty simple -- no matter how many people are entering your giveaway, the % of winners who review the book is remarkably consistent. On average, 45% of First Reads winners write a review of the book they receive. That number doesn't change much, no matter how many books you offer. Consequently, if you offer 20 books, you're likely to get 9-10 reviews (that's a text review, not just a rating), whereas you might only get 2-3 if you offer 5 books. Each of those reviews is incredibly valuable, as it will be seen by the reviewer's friends, some of whom will add the book to their shelves, creating that coveted viral effect.

Even more encouraging for authors and publishers is this chart, which shows that the more books you offer, the more likely a giveaway entrant will be to write a review of it (that's entrants, not winners).



While some of that is the result of having more winners (if you have 500 winners and the typical 45% of them review the book, that will represent a larger than typical percentage of entrants reviewing the book), it's pretty clear that offering a lot of books generates a lot of buzz.

But what does this mean for users? It means that entering a giveaway where lots of books are offered gives you a better chance of winning. If a giveaway for 20 books attracts the same number of entries as one for a single copy, your odds are much higher of winning the 20-copy giveaway.

So what are you waiting for? Enter a giveaway today!

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Janelle (new)

Janelle Your "Enter a giveaway today!" link doesn't seem to be working.

I didn't know about giveaways, glad I read this post!


message 2: by Libby (new)

Libby If, theoretically, you required giveaway winners to write a review if they "won" the giveaway, do you think that 45% percentage would rise? Or would readers resent being told what to do? I'm just curious what might happen.


message 3: by rivka, Goodreads employee (new)

rivka Patrick, very interesting stats!


Janelle, the link is working now.


Libby, how would such a requirement be enforced?


message 4: by Libby (new)

Libby I'm not sure you could enforce it, except to disqualify readers from entering the next giveaway if they didn't write a review for the previous book...


message 5: by Mary Kay (new)

Mary Kay Where is the Giveaway button?


message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown Libby wrote: "I'm not sure you could enforce it, except to disqualify readers from entering the next giveaway if they didn't write a review for the previous book..."

We do make it slightly harder to win if you didn't write a review of a previous book you'd won.


message 7: by Libby (new)

Libby Sounds reasonable to me... thanks for that, Patrick.


message 8: by Jess (new)

Jess No! Don't tell people about First Reads! Now more people will enter the giveaways and I'll be less likely to win!

In all seriousness, though, I've noticed the rise in popularity of First Reads since I originally heard about it six months ago. I've found that many more people are entering the giveaways, and that, because of that, I'm winning far less often than I originally did.


message 9: by Eric (new)

Eric Wright Can you offer books as giveaways that are not just being published? I'm new to GR but have two novels, one just published last Nov. Can it be offered?


message 10: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown Eric wrote: "Can you offer books as giveaways that are not just being published? I'm new to GR but have two novels, one just published last Nov. Can it be offered?"

Yes, you can offer older books. The only requirements are that they must be physical books (no ebooks) and there can't be any strings attached (meaning all the user has to do to enter the giveaway is click "enter.").


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed I'm new to good reads and this group, but I find this interesting. Reviews are essential. I would evn suggest a discussion forum for those who win with the author. Feedback has always been helpful to me as a writer and as an editor. Especially critical or negative comments.


message 12: by Janelle (new)

Janelle I like your idea of a forum feedback from the winners. I think reviewing is and should be a huge factor in winning...that's what First Reads is there for after all.


message 13: by Petra-X (new)

Petra-X That's very interesting.

I would like to know what percentage of people are persistent enterers? That is, they enter almost every giveaway. And what percentage of them write reviews? I am not so much interested in the persistent enterers who never write reviews (the freeloaders), but to see if there is a certain set of people who are particularly valuable to publishers/authors.


message 14: by Shelleyrae (new)

Shelleyrae at Book'd Out Petra X wrote: "That's very interesting.

I would like to know what percentage of people are persistent enterers? That is, they enter almost every giveaway. And what percentage of them write reviews? I am not so m..."


I only enter for books I am interested in reading - but I do so consistently. My choices are usually limited though since there are far fewer giveaways that include non US residents (I live in Australia.)
I have been lucky enough to win 2 in the last 18 months or so and I have written a review for each. I think the program is a great opportunity all round.


message 15: by Skypilot (new)

Skypilot Patrick, do you have data on how long it takes for the reviews to appear on GoodReads?


message 16: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown Skypilot wrote: "Patrick, do you have data on how long it takes for the reviews to appear on GoodReads?"

I don't, though it can take quite a while, as people have to wait for the book to come in the mail, read the book (it often isn't first on their to-read list), and then write the review. I would think 2 months is probably reasonable, but in some cases it might be more. And, of course, it's not a requirement that they write a review at all.


message 17: by Skypilot (new)

Skypilot Understood. Thank you very much for your data and feedback, Patrick!


message 18: by Petra-X (new)

Petra-X Patrick said: "... roughly the same number of people enter giveaways for a single book is offered as they do those where 20 books are offered.

That would suggest that there might be a solid core of people who enter every givewaway no matter what, ie. so long as its free it doesn't matter what it is!


message 19: by Eva (new)

Eva Dillner Thanks for a very interesting article.


message 20: by Eva (last edited Aug 28, 2011 02:30AM) (new)

Eva Dillner A year has passed since you wrote the article. I just wrote a summary of my giveaway statistics at http://evadillners.blogspot.com/2011/...
Have things changed that much in a year?


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