Goodreads Blog

Goodreads Hack: Scan a Book Cover!

Posted by Cybil on May 17, 2017
Have you ever been inspired by a friend's book collection and wanted to immediately add a slew of her books to your Want to Read list? Or, maybe you'd like a way to quickly check a book's ratings on Goodreads as you browse through the stacks at your local bookstore or library?

Well, now you only need to point your phone at a book to add it to your Want to Read list, rate it, or see its Goodreads' reviews. Goodreads recently added a fun new feature to our iOS smartphone app: The ability to scan book covers and barcodes. And as a bonus, several of our readers also seem to like the sparking blue dots feature for their selfies!


New to the feature? Here's how to use it:

1) When you tap on the 'scan' icon on the Goodreads app, you'll be taken to a screen that activates your device's camera. If you haven't given the app permission to use the camera, you'll be prompted to do so.

2) If you're using the scanner for the first time, you'll see a message telling you to point the camera at a book cover (or barcode).

3) You will see sparkling blue dots appear on the screen as the scanner attempts to identify the book cover (or barcode). When the book is recognized, a card will appear on the screen with the book cover, title, and the option to shelve the book to your Want to Read shelf or to rate the book.

4) If more than one match is found, a card will appear on the screen with multiple book covers and you'll be asked to choose the correct book.

5) Whether or not you shelve the book, all recognized books will be saved in your 'history' tab. Your scanned 'history' will store up to 100 books.

6) If the book doesn't load after a few scan attempts, it's probably because it hasn't been added to our database yet. In this case, feel free to let our librarians know by contacting them here.

We love the fun our readers are having with this feature! How are you using it?




Cover Scan 2



Cover Scan 2



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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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message 1: by Colin (new)

Colin Mitchell Had not bothered with a phone app for Goodreads before as I usually use the computer site but tried this on my Android phone and it work just great. Be wandering around peoples book shelves with my phone now!


message 2: by John (new)

John Pellow Very fantastic goodreads.


message 3: by Amy (last edited May 17, 2017 09:23AM) (new)

Amy Oooooh! Love this feature. I am forever finding books at the used book store that I want to add to my TBR, then promptly forgetting the name of the book as soon as I walk out the door. I do a lot of google searches for things like "book with bullet holes in the cover" (The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley), or "2017 debut novel ya police" (The Hate U Give.) Yah, it works but it makes my brain hurt sometimes! lol This scanning thing will be SO much easier! Thanks!


message 4: by Caroline (new)

Caroline I love this new feature! Definitely will come in handy at bookstores where they cover up the barcode on the back (Half Price Books comes to mind). Thanks for always adding helpful features :)


message 5: by Asia (new)

Asia This is so cool! This will certainly help during my next visit to the bookstore. I'm always researching books on goodreads during my bookstore visits. This feature feels like the natural order of things. Thanks GRs :D


message 6: by Sami (new)

Sami This is amazing. It can recognize some books from the back cover as well. It even recognizes my more obscure Latin textbooks.


Zombieslayer/Alienhunter {Gandalf the Blonde} I use Goodreads in the browser on my phone for browsing/commenting, when I write my reviews I use my laptop.
But...
This has seriously made me reconsider downloading the app.
Maybe when I get a better phone with more storage ^^"

Nice one, Goodreads :D This actually seems like a winning update!


message 8: by Radoslav (new)

Radoslav Nice thing, but I prefer the previous barcode scanner because it was faster for codes. The current tech doesn't work with translated books using the same cover.


message 9: by Janice (new)

Janice Bolick Neat idea.


message 10: by Maria (new)

Maria Thisll be so handy when im in the book store & want to add books to my library to read list !


message 11: by Mercurycode (new)

Mercurycode I read mostly digital so this might not be a hugely used function for me, BUT I just wanted to say thanks for bringing around such great features! It's obvious you are constantly working on goodreads and trying to improve it, and it shows.


message 12: by Terry (new)

Terry I will have to give this a try because I generally just take a pic of a book and save it in an album on my phone.


message 13: by Patricia (new)

Patricia There is more than one goodreads app the app store, two free ones and one that is $3. Which one is the real one.


Heather BOOKLVR24/7 I love this feature for my iPhone Goodreads App!! So easy to scan 📚 anywhere.


message 15: by Mehsi (last edited May 17, 2017 12:43PM) (new)

Mehsi Isn't this something that has been around for a while now? Or did the IOS app just get it?
I am using the android Goodreads app and I know that I saw this feature for the first time a few months ago when I wanted to scan a new book of mine, when suddenly I had those blue dots and I could scan a cover.


message 16: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Hayward Used it on my iPhone- good feature! Quick and useful


message 17: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Marie {#thebookishmama} Very cool. Thanks!


message 18: by Usagi Tsukino (new)

Usagi Tsukino I didn't know about this feature, seems interesting and useful, but I guess if it also works with "foreign" books (aka non-english).


message 19: by Azur (new)

Azur Is this finally a solution for books that are too old to have a barcode or ISBN?


message 20: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth This sounds awesome, but does it deal well with books with multiple editions where the covers look different? For example, I just finished the Gollancz edition fo Brandon Sanderson's Firefight, which has a silhouette with a greeny forcefield on the cover, but when I went to add the book to Goodreads using the searchbar, the edition that came up had a cover full of fire.


message 21: by Terri (Twill) (new)

Terri (Twill) I've been using this on my android phone for months and love it. I had been scanning barcodes but accidentally found out that I could scan covers as well. I've now scanned all the books on my shelves and am on my way to sorting them into categories.


message 22: by Vikarti (new)

Vikarti Works on android (Galaxy A3 2017) but:
- if this edition of book edition is not present, it sometimes show other edition (when I scan book from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... (I just added this book) it shows https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ) - that's good.
- sometimes it says 'invalid barcode' even while there is no barcode .
- some non-english books are not recognized. Examples -
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... and https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...- (print edition of latter has same cover as ebook one but no entry on Goodreads because it shares same isbn)


message 23: by Sebastian (new)

Sebastian Sajda I did this by accident and it startled me.


message 24: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Vikarti wrote: "Works on android (Galaxy A3 2017) but:
- if this edition of book edition is not present, it sometimes show other edition (when I scan book from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... (..."


That is useful information, thankyou :)


message 25: by Rachel (last edited May 18, 2017 12:40AM) (new)

Rachel Mckitterick I just downloaded the app to try this and its so cool! Thank you!

Ps, my phone is a Samsung Galaxy s6 and it works wonderfully!


message 26: by Em (new)

Em Should be extra helpful considering I can never get the barcode scanner to work anymore. Can't wait to try it out on some new books :)


message 27: by Jaclyn, Goodreads Expert (new)

Jaclyn Shore Radoslav wrote: "Nice thing, but I prefer the previous barcode scanner because it was faster for codes. The current tech doesn't work with translated books using the same cover."

Thanks for that feedback! We haven't removed the barcode scanner, so you should still be able to find books using that method.

Patricia wrote: "There is more than one goodreads app the app store, two free ones and one that is $3. Which one is the real one."

The Goodreads app is completely free to download and should display the Goodreads 'g' icon.

Mehsi wrote: "Isn't this something that has been around for a while now? Or did the IOS app just get it?"

Well spotted! This feature is fairly new to both apps, but was most recently released to our iOS users.


message 28: by Jaclyn, Goodreads Expert (new)

Jaclyn Shore Vikarti wrote: "Works on android (Galaxy A3 2017) but:
- if this edition of book edition is not present, it sometimes show other edition (when I scan book from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... (..."


Thanks for your feedback – I'm passing this along to the relevant team!


message 29: by Aimee (new)

Aimee When I can't afford to buy new books. I go to my local bookshop and scan all the books I wish I could buy. From the app I can save them straight onto my to-read shelf so I can buy them when I have money. Saves a lot of time writing wishlists of books.


message 30: by Marie (new)

Marie Nice feature !! I download the app again only for this haha! But, the android app should look more like the IOS one, it would be great because on android, the design is not pretty at all and makes me prefer the website version ...


message 31: by Justine (new)

Justine Miley This is a great feature when for when you're at a bookstore with a bargain section. The Books A Million store that I frequent tend to use their own UPC code instead of the original one printed on the back cover. For that reason, the Goodreads app won't read the barcode, but I love that it scans the cover too. That makes it so much easier!


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Will you be adding this feature to the android app as well? Pretty please?


message 33: by Terri (Twill) (new)

Terri (Twill) Sarah wrote: "Will you be adding this feature to the android app as well? Pretty please?"

This already works great with Android.


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Terri (Twill) wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Will you be adding this feature to the android app as well? Pretty please?"

This already works great with Android."


I had no idea. Thank you so much!


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