Behind the Scenes at Goodreads

Posted by Elizabeth on January 29, 2013
Yesterday, we marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice by hanging a giant poster of Colin Firth's head in our "Pemberley" conference room. That symbolic gesture also hailed the completion of our decor at the new Goodreads offices in San Francisco. Yay!

Many months in the making, we hoped to make our office as cozy, welcoming, and bookish as possible. Our team sits in brown and green chairs in front of light wood desks; custom chairs double as bookshelves; the picnic area is where were all lunch together; photos of Goodreads employees holding their favorite books hang near the kitchen. We even created a mellow Mad Men-style lounge area where people can play chess and board games, read books from the communal shelf, or sometimes take a nap on the sofa.

Where the Magic Happens
Only One Duplicate for Favorite Book! Catch-22

Wanted: Book Lovers

Coding or Chilling, Amar?

But, back to Pemberley. In each of the conference rooms we hoped to create an atmosphere that reflected a different book from a different genre. Everyone in the office threw out ideas, and in the end we ran a poll and used a little hocus pocus to come up with five special environments.

Emily Savors the Shire

The Shire: Artist Helen Bayly spent hours creating this swirling mural of
J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy, The Hobbit. Note the friendly little hobbit curled up with his latest good read.

Max and Michael, a Perfect Pair

Land of the Wild Things: Hipster icon, kid-book illuminatus, we hope the wildly inventive
Maurice Sendak would have enjoyed our little shrine to Max, the boy who throws on his wolf suit and sparks a wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are.

Arrakis: This one caters to founder Otis' tastes. He's a big fan of Frank Herbert's '70s science fiction tome, Dune. In his review, he called it "an epic tale of intrigue, religion, and human nature." Difficult concept to pull off, though. We settled with three posters from the movies. Perhaps in the future we can add a sand pit.

Seth Takes a Well-Earned Break

Sherlock Holmes Library: Move over, dear Watson, we'd like to take a seat. The library is a fun place to ponder big questions from the safety of comfy brown chairs and prop your feet up on cushy footrests. We solve the latest challenges for Goodreads in this book-lined sanctuary.

Ready, Set, Blast Off!

The Great Glass Elevator: We took this oddly shaped little room in the far corner of the office and transformed it into a space-age take on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Weird candy-colored chairs, a spider-like table, and decal buttons leading you wherever you'd like to go!

Misty Falls in Love, One More Time

And the final piece of the puzzle: Pemberley.
We wanted a female author who has captured the hearts of thousands of readers; Jane Austen was an easy choice. The iconic Pride and Prejudice has been immortalized by Bollywood, reborn as a spoiled Beverly Hills teen, become part of the canon of many actors' serious work—Olivier, Firth, Knightley—rehashed on YouTube, even spawned a whole new subgenre of the zombie thing with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And well, a lot of us in the office are true-blue fans. The Pemberley room boasts a few hunting reproductions, a portrait of the lovely Ms. Austen, a reproduction of a romantic scene from an old version of the book, and a giant poster of Firth’s head—with his co-stars in the background.

We've just settled in, but let's face it, we may be moving offices again soon. Any ideas for an additional set of conference rooms? What fabulous environments from books would you like to escape into? We're looking for magical places that can help us dream up big ideas for Goodreads!

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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message 1: by Janelle (new)

Janelle It all looks fantastic! Wish I worked there, what a dream job. Why might you guys be moving soon? Outgrowing your space already? I am so glad to see that Goodreads is doing so well.

message 2: by Lori (new)

Lori What a dreamy place you've built there! Oh the things I would do to be a Goodreadsian!

message 3: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Very Nice!

message 4: by Sandi (new)

Sandi Layne This is lovely! A very swoony-for-bibliophiles environment!

message 5: by Jena (new)

Jena That "wanted: Book lovers" part - don't even tease like that!

message 6: by Gouldma (new)

Gouldma Love Artist Helen Bayly's mural. Beautiful!

message 7: by Alison (new)

Alison This would be my dream job. I can't imagine working at a place like goodreads. It looks ideal.

message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Damn, can I come work for you?

I think your next environment should be Game of Thrones complete with Iron Throne made out of swords.

Laurie (Kwiltreader) Looks very inviting.

Morgan (The Bookish Beagle) What an awesome work environment! As far as other conference rooms, the Beast's Library from Beauty and the Beast would be a good one! Or a Peter Pan or Harry Potter room... or maybe just British children's fiction in general :) Or for another female author with a bookish heroine, Little Women! I love Jo March.

message 11: by Katie (new)

Katie Fawkes So awesome! Thanks for giving us a sneak peek :)

message 12: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Corral You're missing an area for Poe lovers, and maybe a quirky little corner for graphic novels. And now I know where I'm sending my resume next. :D

message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill You had me at "giant poster of Colin Firth's head"!!

message 14: by Gina (new)

Gina Beautiful!

message 15: by William (new)

William J. Meyer These photos are fantastic. I especially like the faux candid reading pics. :) In grade school we made a castle out of cardboard boxes and that became our haven for reading. You should make one of those.

message 16: by Edel (new)

Edel What a beautiful place to work in. :0)

message 17: by Hex (new)

Hex And people say that Google is the best place to work.

message 18: by Sannie (new)

Sannie I think a Little House on the Prairie/Laura Ingalls Wilder room would be pretty sweet...I definitely loved her books before I fell in love with Pride & Prejudice!

I also agree with Cynthia...a quirky corner for graphic novels would be super fun.

message 19: by Allen (new)

Allen Living in a sea of books - how wonderful - this from an ex-bookstore-owner.
Just wish I could traverse the site as easily as my bookstore.

message 20: by Mary Ann (last edited Jan 30, 2013 06:52AM) (new)

Mary Ann Thanks for sharing, I love the Sherlock Holmes Library, that said; the whole effect is very, very cool!

message 21: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Wow who painted your murals? That artist deserves a note!

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I wish I worked for Goodreads!!!

message 23: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Goodreads Central looks like pure heaven! Your next addition should be a secret room--hidden behind a bookcase, of course.

message 24: by Sophie (new)

Sophie My Dream Job. What better way to spend all day everyday than organising, reading and rating books and making the reading experience better for everyone!

Goodreads Central, you guys are awesome. Keep it up :)

message 25: by Thousif (new)

Thousif Raza Looks amazing :) i am so glad u guys are doing well. :) Prosper away ;)

message 26: by Megan (new)

Megan Aw man, that is incredible! I love the Sherlock Holmes room. C= Goodreads doesn't do internships, do they?

message 27: by Mark (new)

Mark Chisnell Very cool - but who's the Darcy equivalent for the men?

message 28: by Loida (new)

Loida Can I come work for you?? Love it!

message 29: by Margie (new)

Margie Can we come visit? I'll bring my (limited) coding skills!

message 30: by Caron (new)

Caron Kamps  Widden Very cool. A hip, creative it:)

message 31: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Cool, looks like a great place to come to work everyday!!!

message 32: by Krystyn (new)

Krystyn Love it!! Makes me wish I worked there!! Great environment!!

message 33: by Anne (new)

Anne Charnock Looks like a great place to work but I cannot approve of library wallpaper. It's a no-no in my book!

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* How great is this? Love it. Must be nice to go to work and be inspired by book themes everywhere. I like the library wallpaper

message 35: by Linda (new)

Linda Looks like a wonderful soothing environment to work in.

message 36: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I'm impressed how you find books for different people. I hope the next giveaway will be a book about goblins.

message 37: by Jenny (new)

Jenny oh, that looks so lovely. It makes me yearn for my days at Borders.

message 38: by Shakil (new)

Shakil Thasariya I'm impressed how you find books for different people. I hope the next giveaway will be a book about goblins.
IPL 2013

message 39: by Juliet (new)

Juliet A quirky, bohemian nook a la Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group would be fun, but so would some Gatsy-style glamour! Thanks for the peek behind the curtain.

message 40: by Julia (new)

Julia I second the Virginia Woolf/Bloomsbury idea! It could include a mural of bloomsburyesque wallpaper and some fresh flowers a-la Mrs. Dalloway. A Hemingway Spanish cafe inspired room would be great too. Not sure an iron throne would be comfortable, but a map of Westeros on the walls would be fun.

message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan Brown What a fabulous work environment! Working at Goodreads would be my dream job!

message 42: by Anny (new)

Anny Wow, that's a beautiful office! Wonder what it takes to get a job there... :O

message 43: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Wow. Just wow. This is like the perfect dream job with a dream work enviroment. Hats off to you guys! Wish I could work here.

message 44: by Steven (new)

Steven Ms Austen? I would love to see how Miss Austen, as she was appropriately referred to in her day, would satire the whole "Ms" thing. I imagine it would be another classic piece if literature from Miss Austen.

message 45: by Rosina (last edited Feb 20, 2014 07:49PM) (new)

Rosina Here are some image looks like gorgeous. Thanks for magnificent info. see more at as like as: San Diego Office Furniture

message 46: by Sonia (new)

Sonia Dhaliwal wow this is lovely!

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