Announcing Goodreads Personalized Recommendations

Posted by Kyusik Chung on September 15, 2011
Goodreads was founded with the mission to get people excited about reading. And the key to getting people excited about reading is to help them discover books that they’ll love, and then to enable them to share their thoughts and experiences with friends.

Today, Goodreads launches a new personalized book recommendation engine. It takes recommendations to a new level of sophistication by analyzing both books and, more importantly, the people who read them. It’s the Netflix of book recommendations.

Finding a great book recommendation online has been a hit-and-miss affair to date. We’ve all experienced the unhelpful suggestion to read another book by an author we already love. And how about the dreaded impact of buying gifts on Amazon only to have irrelevant book recommendations come up for months afterwards?

Earlier this year, Goodreads purchased a company that had built a very sophisticated book recommendation system. Today, after months of hard work, we’re ready to provide you with book recommendations that take into account what you like and don’t like and what certain books mean to you.

To get started, rate at least 20 books (and rate much more to get even better recommendations). Categorize your books in custom shelves that reflect what the books mean to you. Then explore your recommendations. We apologize for the impact this will have on the size of your to-read shelf.

How Goodreads Recommendations Work

The Goodreads Recommendation Engine combines multiple proprietary algorithms which analyze 20 billion data points to better predict which books people will want to read next. It maps out the connections between books by looking at how often they appear on the same bookshelves and whether they were enjoyed by the same people. On average, Goodreads members have 140 books on their shelves. With this information, the engine learns how your tastes are similar to or different from the tastes of other Goodreads members.

So, a big part of the secret sauce is…you, the Goodreads community. The Goodreads community is almost six million members strong, and you’ve added a combined total of 190 million books to your shelves!

Take best-seller The Help as an example: Goodreads members have added over 175,000 ratings of the book and over 40,000 reviews. In comparison, Amazon has, to date, less than 4,500 reviews and ratings.

But it doesn’t end with raw numbers. Goodreads members have put The Help on bookshelves called Historical Fiction, Friendship, Racism, Women’s Fiction and Cultural > African American. You can see how this book means different things to different people. If you’re approaching this as Historical Fiction and have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, then a great recommendation for you is These Is My Words. With Amazon, the focus is on other best-sellers so someone buying The Help would get recommendations for books as diverse as Water For Elephants, The Hunger Games, and One Day.

We welcome you to try our recommendations on for size. Compare them with anything else you’ve relied on online. Then tell us (and your friends) what you think. We think you’ll be blown away, and that you’ll meet your next favorite book on Goodreads.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 263 (263 new)

message 1: by Kerry Vaughan (new)

Kerry Vaughan This is a great idea, I love it. I also love that this will encourage people to keep reading. Many times I've felt lost about what to read next I knew what I was looking for, but was unable to find a book that matched that. This concept looks as though it will alleviated that:D

message 2: by Vidya-BooksAreMagic (last edited Sep 15, 2011 06:02AM) (new)

Vidya-BooksAreMagic Great effort!!! Thanks rock.

message 3: by Allisa (new)

Allisa I'm going to love this! It's great!

message 4: by TC (new)

TC I took a look earlier and had some suggestions that really seemed to match my tastes. Nice work!

message 5: by Emelie (new)

Emelie Fantastic! This was the only thing I missed on this site. Now I will probably read a lot more due to it being easier to find new books. Yay!

message 6: by Savvas (new)

Savvas Katseas Great stuff, bravo for your hard work.

message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Sjoquist Wonderful idea, now I'll never get off this site! LOL!

message 8: by Lin (new)

Lin Exactly what we needed next! Ace :-)

message 9: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Brilliant!! And thanks for the apology in regards to my to-read shelf. Sleep? Not happening. Overrated, anyway.

Thanks so much for adding this feature. Love it.

message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers Does this take into account the number of stars we've given a book, or just what shelves we've placed it on?

message 11: by Ghada (new)

Ghada Arafat Thanx it is great

message 12: by Maia (new)

Maia Wow. Now instead of spending half my spare time on this site, I'll spend all of it here... :)

message 13: by Marc (new)

Marc Kozak This is really excellent stuff. After playing around a little, I wonder if it'd be possible to simply delete a recommendation instead of selecting "not interested". There are some recommendations which I like but am already aware of the author or planned on reading it eventually but haven't added it to my shelves. I don't want to click "not interested" and have it affect other recommendations, because the recommendation was good, it is just not...I dunno...needed at the moment? Is this making any sense?

Anyhow, I can't stress enough, good work here!

message 14: by Mia (new)

Mia YAY!!!

message 15: by Syahira (new)

Syahira Its going great. I really like it.

message 16: by Brad (new)

Brad Gotta agree with everyone else, this is a great idea. Will you be implementing the recommendations into the iPhone app too?

message 17: by Sweetdhee (new)

Sweetdhee thumbs!!!

message 18: by Grant (new)

Grant Barber What would really make this site appealing? Forthcoming titles. I may find recommendations about books I haven't heard of, but that is not going to be that often--when you're a bookaholic. But Forthcoming--that would be amazing.

message 19: by Soul (last edited Sep 15, 2011 08:07AM) (new)

Soul Really awesome idea!!

and not just idea... it's reality i already checked with few recommendations and quite liked all i can say now is,


extraordinary ordinary whimsy I'm with Marc. I don't want it to affect future recommendations simply because I don't want that particular book.

Also, is there a place where one can view the books they've marked "not interested"?

message 21: by Alexanne (new)

Alexanne Would this new feature be similar to the Genius feature on an iPod?

message 22: by D.G. (new)

D.G. I have to say I was surprised on how good the recommendations are looking. Great job!

message 23: by Ana (new)

Ana Wooooooow..this is great!!! Well done guys!

message 24: by Lyndz (new)

Lyndz I love this!

message 25: by Abenet (new)

Abenet This is absolutely amazing. Finally, another great use of technology!!

message 26: by Evelyne (new)

Evelyne this is great! love it.

message 27: by Mehnaz (new)

Mehnaz great!!

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I hope it works better than Netflix, which tends to come up with some rather off the wall stuff, sometimes. I don't know how useful this feature will be to me, because my GR friends keep me in plenty of book recommendations. I tend to only add a book to my tbr pile, after I've read at least one positive review from someone I know. I rarely add a new book that I don't have at least a passing acquaintance with.

message 29: by Natasha (new)

Natasha McNeely This is a wonderful idea; I'll definitely be taking advantage of it!

message 30: by Tessa (new)

Tessa This is wonderful!!! I'm so excited to explore the new recommendations feature.

message 31: by MizziQ (new)

MizziQ This is a great step-up for GR! Thank you for working so hard on it!

message 32: by Danna (new)

Danna I was absolutely looking forward to it. I would like to congratulate the Goodreads webstie managers for creating such a great upstart! I liked it that I can be recommended according to not only favorites, but shelves and ratings and genres, too. I have noticed some recommendations appeared twice or so in my lists, so I bet that is something I should definattly read! One thing short, where is the book genre section?

Andi (Andi's ABCs) Very excited for this. I already added 3 books that I had never even heard of because of this. Keep the recommendations coming!

message 34: by Audra (new)

Audra Love this,given with 214 books on my tbr list, it may be awhile before I start fully using this.

message 35: by Denise (new)

Denise Jo How and where do I find this?

message 36: by Audra (last edited Sep 15, 2011 11:11AM) (new)

Audra Denise wrote: "How and where do I find this?"

It's between groups and explore along the top.

message 37: by Janane (new)

Janane No kidding. It's wreaking havoc on my to-read shelf. :D

message 38: by rivka, Goodreads employee (new)

rivka Grant, you might find the monthly new releases newsletter useful.

message 39: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Janane wrote: "No kidding. It's wreaking havoc on my to-read shelf. :D"

i have a feeling its gonna to the same to me lol

message 40: by Sana (new)

Sana This is a great, great feature! =D

Thanks a lot, GR!

message 41: by + Dragonfly+ (new)

+ Dragonfly+ Great idea! Thanks

message 42: by Heather (new)

Heather I really like the concept, but some of the genres seem to have some wonky titles. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was recommended as a Young Adult Book? And Knuffle Bunny? These are on the same shelf as Unwind by Neal Shusterman! I don't want to mark the children's books as "not interested," I just want them to show up on the children's shelf and not the young adult shelf.

message 43: by Vivian (new)

Vivian I think this is a great addition, but am I the only one receiving recommendations that I've already read? I've already noticed numerous recommendations that are already listed and rated on my read or previously added to my to-be-read list.

message 44: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Woohoo!! Finally a help for choosing/finding books like Netflix has for movies! Great job, Goodreads!!

message 45: by Janet (new)

Janet Thank you! I love this and can't wait to check it out. Guess I should get my shelves in better order to get the best use out of it.

message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

QUESTION 1: I have been getting recommendations for stage adaptations of books by an author I love. I am not interested in the adaptations. What happens to other related works if I click not interested?

QUESTION 2: Am I getting recommendations based on books I didn't like? I can actually find recommendations for my shelf "couldn't finish". Too many "bad" recommendations will make this feature less useful.

I have been looking through it, and it has promise.

message 47: by Aurelie (new)

Aurelie D really good job on this feature so far. i really like the setup and recommendations based off specific books genres, shelves, etc. can't wait to put it to good use!

message 48: by Travis (new)

Travis This new Recommending system is AWESOME guys! Thank-you sooooo much. And since you were so sorry for making my TBR pile that much bigger, I expect your next solution will be able to have nanobite contractors assess all my books, come to my house, and install the necessary and projected amount of bookshelves that will be needed to contain the growing mountains of books stashed all through my house! Come on guys, get on it!

message 49: by Kara (last edited Sep 15, 2011 11:13AM) (new)

Kara Jeannette wrote: "QUESTION 1: I have been getting recommendations for stage adaptations of books by an author I love. I am not interested in the adaptations. What happens to other related works if I click not int..."

1) When you click "not interested", we learn not to recommend other books to you that are similar to those.

2) You can edit the shelves that you're getting recommendations for on your "edit bookshelves" page. Just uncheck a shelf under "recs" to remove it and you shouldn't see any more recs based on that shelf.

message 50: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Snazzy. I like the interface. Great work!

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