Goodreads Librarians Group discussion

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Policies & Practices > NOT A BOOK - but it is!

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message 1: by Louise (new)

Louise | 22 comments Hello

This is the book at issue:

Audible has an awesome series of audiobooks called "The Great Courses" - they have individual isbn numbers, there are lots and lots of them here on Goodreads, and they have as much claim to being a real audiobook as any other work of non-fiction/journalism/essays.
For some reason one of them has been put in the NOT A BOOK category - with a librarian note from the Goodreads Team demanding that it must not be changed.

You can even buy it as an audio BOOK! or cd from AMAZON...

So.. it's really not smart to delete the cover & the description - which had a lot of interesting references for finding the books in the lectures! And in general I think you should avoid putting the great lectures in the NOT A BOOK category - I'm not about to change it, as the Goodreads Team threaten that you'll get your librarian status revoked by doing so - but it must be an error?

message 2: by Michael (last edited Mar 23, 2018 01:42AM) (new)

Michael Korleone (michaelkorleone) | 3881 comments Would suggest you to send a mail to support AT goodreads DOT com and get it changed by staff instead.

message 3: by Louise (new)

Louise | 22 comments ok :-)

message 4: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
The Great Courses are lectures. Goodreads does not consider them books.

message 5: by Olivia (new)

Olivia (livka) | 7927 comments
anyone want's to NAB it with 900 ratings and 80 followers? :)

message 6: by ☕ Lachgas ♿ (last edited Apr 05, 2018 12:52PM) (new)

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments Rivka, does that mean their audible editions (with asin) and PB editions (often transcripts, but with ISBN) can/should be NABed too?

message 7: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
Definitely yes to the former. I haven't seen any of the latter. Do you have an example?

message 8: by Olivia (last edited Apr 06, 2018 02:19AM) (new)

Olivia (livka) | 7927 comments I've seen that #5 with 'Great Courses' as author has been deleted.
There are some more:

message 9: by ☕ Lachgas ♿ (last edited Apr 06, 2018 07:12PM) (new)

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments rivka wrote: "Definitely yes to the former. I haven't seen any of the latter. Do you have an example?"

came across some yesterday, had to dig a bit for an example today (as always...) according to worldcat that's a printed book with the transcripts of the lectures and a coursebook
and this

or Worldcat:


or this one - according to Amazon it does exist as PB
NAB all the other editions and keeping the PB only felt a bit weird though I must admit.

My thoughts (and I'm not even a user of these courses): we do count collections of wikipedia articles as valid entry so not sure if such transcripts are less bookish than that...
And if these are books because of their form (text printed on paper), how to argue that the real audible editions (with ASIN) are not just audiobooks of these existing books?
(there's no doubt about all these non isbn or dvd entries, although these will be a project for a super most of the time)

I just would love to understand it in case I'm starting on that project ... and considering the amount of shelvings/ratings there might be "some" people complaining then...

edit: as I'm not from the US I don't know if these transcripts are available without that DVDs/CDs so that could be a point I didn't consider until now.

another edit: And that's also on Amazon but as well as the former only sold by 3rd party seller so no idea if that was really published separately or if sellers just had them left and now sell them without the DVD/CD

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments came across imported Kindle editions, I assume they should stay? correct? (as magazines with ASIN are allowed)

message 11: by Crybot (new)

Crybot | 9 comments Deciding lectures packaged as audio books are not books is kind of nuts. I use Goodreads to track my audio and physical books equally.

message 12: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
Course books would stay, even if they include other material. Editions that have solely recorded lectures (or transcripts of same) would not.

message 13: by Crybot (new)

Crybot | 9 comments Solely recorded audio books should stay, or Goodreads becomes less comprehensive and slightly less useful. The decision to cut things that are only audio, but still packaged and sold as audiobooks, is arbitrary.

message 14: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston As someone who listens to a fair number of Great Courses, I think this NOT A BOOK policy detracts from the usefulness of goodreads.

I want their authors (the professors who recorded them) to be cited, and I want to note and find more courses by the authors I liked. When you deliberately blank out these authors, you deny your users important cataloging information. Why can't you classify these as NOT A BOOK, somehow, while giving these authors credit?

message 15: by Olivia (new)

Olivia (livka) | 7927 comments Crystal, Bill,
this is a Librarians Group.
We are volunteers correcting book data in line with GR policy.
We have no impact on said policy.

If you have any comments on site functionality probably a better place to post them would be a Feedback Group.

message 16: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "Why can't you classify these as NOT A BOOK, somehow, while giving these authors credit?"

Because that's not how we handle items we don't consider books on Goodreads. I'm sorry you are unhappy about how we handle recorded lectures (and podcasts, and many other items users think should be considered books), but that is our policy.

And this group is a perfectly fine place to discuss such policies. I closed the other thread as a duplicate. No need to post in the Feedback group, as this is neither a site functionality issue nor a bug.

message 17: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston If you don't want to consider it a book, I have no problem with that. There's a gray zone between what is or isn't a book, and you have to draw an arbitrary line somewhere.

The problem I have is with deleting the names of authors.

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments No that won't work Bill.
For different reasons.
the NOT A BOOK author does not only mean "it's not a book" but also "it's not something GR considers a valid record" so it's just used for everything that should not be automatically reimported by bots (with the ASIN/ISBN there is no deletion possible) and should "vanish" from the search for a reason.
If we would enter the lecturers names these entries would be visible for search again and the NAB would just be useless, because why investing the time to NAB if everything is like before?
And: I'm sure it wouldn't take long until the authors and readers would complain because there is "not a book"mentioned.
And saying "it's not an item GR sees valid" and on the other hand having it visible in the database would look kind of "left does not know what right does" so that can be only a "valid" or "not valid" question - because there's just no way having something half or partly in the database.

And in fact people wanna track here a lot ... computer games, New Yorker articles, broadcasted radio dramas, blogposts...

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments @John in case you're reading it here - in response to the question in the other thread why not all are already NABed - that's simple :) Because they are a real mess (they really are,lots of combining and quite some incorrect authors) and they are just a huge amount (not only the courses but they often do have a lot editions - which are often duplicates - and every edition has to be NABed individually, so that just takes it's time...
That's all.

message 20: by Crybot (new)

Crybot | 9 comments Can anyone point to actual policy that says audiobooks are not books if they're from The Great Courses or originated as lectures?

As far as I can tell from here:
they ARE books according to GR.

"These items are books:
* audio productions, not recordings of theatrical productions (the format should be "audiobook") "

And the guidelines when adding a book manually say:
"Format: Should generally be Hardcover, Paperback, Audio CD, Ebook, etc"

We can point to the audiobooks on Audible. So this seems like volunteers tearing up valid entries.

message 21: by Philip (new)

Philip (burnnerman) | 5913 comments Crystal wrote: "Can anyone point to actual policy that says audiobooks are not books if they're from The Great Courses or originated as lectures?

As far as I can tell from here:"

Rivka is not a volunteer, but an employee. So, if stated like it was that they are not valid then they are not valid.

message 22: by Crybot (last edited Apr 10, 2018 01:44PM) (new)

Crybot | 9 comments Maybe rivka is mistaken even if they're not a volunteer? It seems to be stated in the places I linked, and in the Librarian Manual, that audio productions ARE valid. I can find nowhere stating that anything these audiobooks could be classified as is not valid.

I still ask for any link to policy saying that audiobooks are not books if they're from The Great Courses or originated as lectures.

Considering Amazon owns Audible and Goodreads, why would the company want to remove from Goodreads what it promotes on Audible?

message 23: by ☕ Lachgas ♿ (last edited Apr 10, 2018 02:25PM) (new)

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments It's not only "volunteers tearing up" things - it's GR staff doing these edits also with the official GR Team account.

So it's not "only" rivka (although that would be enough for librarians) but also the rest of the staff with the same opinion.

And only because things are on audible they don't need to be valid for GR - although Amazon meanwhile owns GR they are just separate firms - which is something pretty normal in business. (Procter & Gamble has it's own rules/prices for their firms too)

Elizabeth (Alaska) | 6585 comments Crystal wrote: "I can find nowhere stating that anything these audiobooks could be classified as is not valid."

It isn't because they are audiobooks that makes them invalid. There are oodles of audiobooks/audible/audio CD formats of books. It's because they are entirely verbal lectures. See that, for example,
* television episodes
* theatrical production recordings ....
* podcasts discussing books

are Not a Book, and the Great Courses are similar.

message 25: by Crybot (last edited Apr 10, 2018 02:05PM) (new)

Crybot | 9 comments They are specifically audio productions, which Goodreads documents say are valid. I see nothing about lectures in the are/are not books lists.

The Great Courses are also not remotely like television episodes, theatrical production recordings, or podcasts discussing books.

You could as easily compare them to podcasts of books, calendars with sayings, or bound sheet music, all of which are in the "are books" list.

message 26: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston So are you saying you want me to delete them from My Books and never look at them again here on Goodreads?

I can do that if you want. That was not at all clear from the earlier mentions of it just not being considered a book.

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments They are in fact pretty much like television - with all their DVDs.
And if I go to university record my prof talking I'm having a lecture recorded but in no way something similar to a book.
and "podcasts of books" means identical to the book - and actually the Great Courses have DVD/audio and are not based on a book.
They are not someone just reading one book aloud.

No Bill you don't need to delete them from your books if you don't want to - but most likely some might vanish because they are deleted (ones without ISBN/ASIN).

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments additional question rivka, should something happen with the lists once the courses are nabed (if needed)?
Remove them from their lists because lists are for book items and lectures aren't?

message 29: by Crybot (new)

Crybot | 9 comments I don't see how it matters that they are lectures. The are/are not books lists say nothing about lectures (or things that teach) either way. It is content packaged and sold as audiobooks and audio CDs. The DVD editions would not be editions included on Goodreads, but the audiobooks are all spoken words and the experience of listening to them is the same as listening to a non-fiction book. The lectures have chapter numbers. The books end with "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program."

If you recorded your professor talking and got a publisher to distribute it as an audiobook, then maybe it would be an audiobook too.

message 30: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston I deleted all of these audio courses from My Books, including the ones by "goodreads authors". I wonder what they'll think when their books start disappearing.

message 31: by Scott (new)

Scott | 17153 comments Why would their books disappear?

message 32: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston Lachgas said: "but most likely some might vanish because they are deleted"

message 33: by Scott (new)

Scott | 17153 comments Yes, the lectures, but not actual books they have written.

message 34: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston Ah, semantics. How wonderful.

Despite goodreads not recognizing them as books, their authors might feel differently.

message 35: by ☕ Lachgas ♿ (last edited Apr 10, 2018 03:16PM) (new)

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments Bill wrote: "Lachgas said: "but most likely some might vanish because they are deleted""
In that case reading it completely is neccessary, sorry if I wasn't clear enough - books can only be really deleted (means the ratings and records vanish completely and are on no shelf anymore) if they have no identifier like e.g. there is no ASIN or ISBN assigned to it and has no other edition where the shelvings can go to. so that would vanish automatically from your shelf.

In cases like there is no identifier so it can be deleted - but as there are other editions the shelvings and ratings will transfer to the most popular edition.
So that would be on your shelf then - just with NOT A BOOK as author (when someone had the time to nab it)

Most of the records I saw the last days had a target for the ratings/shelvings to go into.

message 36: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
☕ Lachgas ♿ wrote: "additional question rivka, should something happen with the lists once the courses are nabed (if needed)?
Remove them from their lists because lists are for book items and lectures aren't?"

Seems reasonable.

message 37: by Jonathan (last edited Apr 10, 2018 07:35PM) (new)

Jonathan Hoyle (jonhoyle) | 709 comments I have been using GoodReads to track my book and audiobook consumption, and lectures from Great Courses and Modern Scholar represent a reasonable number of them. To have them no longer count as books (or be able to add future courses) seriously impacts the usefulness of GoodReads.

Ugh, after investing all this time updating my reading history in GoodReads, I'd hate to have to quit and start over with one of these other GoodReads alternatives, but I feel I have no choice now.


PS: A friend suggested I consider LibraryThing as a replacement. I have never used it before, has anyone else have experience that they can make an informed comparison?

message 38: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
This group would not be an appropriate place to have that discussion. However, other users may wish to send you direct messages on this topic.

message 39: by Jillian (last edited Apr 10, 2018 10:09PM) (new)

Jillian | 18 comments I am not sure I understand why the Great Courses audio books are not being counted as books and the author's names are deleted. The author's names not being cited bothers me the most. They deserve credit for their work.

It is possible those who have decided not to count the Great Course are not fully familiar that in addition to being an audio book there is also a written textbook with the purchase. The last one I listened to and read came with 232 page book.

message 40: by Crybot (last edited Apr 12, 2018 08:14AM) (new)

Crybot | 9 comments Why can no one link to policy that actually explains this?

This is the Librarian Manual:

It says audio productions that are not "recordings of theatrical productions" are books.

Great Courses are audio productions that are not theatrical. They are even sold as audiobooks. This seems clear. I don't understand the reasoning here.

This is not a few random people wanting to use the site to track random things. There are thousands of people who found Goodreads to be the natural place to track and share the audiobooks they consume. Removing all the Great Courses as books removes them from search results (if they don't disappear entirely) and breaks the site for these audiobooks.

Rivka, instead of ignoring me, can you explain if this is really the opinion of the entire Goodreads team?

message 41: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 5029 comments Without intending any comment about whether these items should or should not be added as books, I would note that lectures are in many ways performances - they're even frequently given in (lecture) theatres :)

message 42: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (last edited Apr 11, 2018 06:26AM) (new)

rivka | 41973 comments Mod
I was definitely not the only one involved in the decision. Which would be why many of the edits involved were done using the Goodreads Team account.

message 43: by AlegnaB † (last edited Apr 11, 2018 02:36PM) (new)

AlegnaB † (alegnab) | 31 comments I just noticed "NOT A BOOK" on my My Books read shelf. I wish I had known a few weeks ago that this change would be made, before I spent quite a few hours fixing records and adding titles to lists I created for the lectures and to my to-read shelf. I thought they qualified as books since the eaudios I downloaded have ISBN's and many, if not most, of the DVD and CD sets contain printed course guidebooks. Sometimes the course guidebook has its own ISBN and sometimes it doesn't. One set I have checked out from my local library has a 224-page guidebook authored by the lecturer, but it doesn't have an ISBN. The other set has a 242-page guidebook authored by the lecturer, and it has its own ISBN that's different from the ISBN for the DVD set. It sounds like a lot of course guidebooks need to be added to GR.

message 44: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston Yes, I suppose we could get around this new rule by adding all the coursebooks with whatever ISBNs are available. They can't deny that words printed on paper constitute books (or can they?)

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

msg 13

☕ Lachgas ♿  (lachgas) | 6177 comments and we had a thread with a question about the guidebooks coming with the DVDs

So no, by staying with this handling the guidebooks will not be kept but also nabed because they are with the DVD and the DVD is considered the main item.
(and the if not available separately rule is not a new one, it e.g. also affects book sets which are not listed as single books even if they each have a different ISBN - as long as only officially sold as set it gets only one record on GR)

message 47: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston Why did I not expect this? When challenged, ban the book as well.

message 48: by Jillian (last edited Apr 11, 2018 05:07PM) (new)

Jillian | 18 comments I still do not see where anyone has answered Crystal's question of giving link to the goodreads policy that explains why the Great Courses have been removed.

Then there is the claim that the audio versions are theatrical and not books. I think those of us who listen to audio books are fairly use to people telling us audio books don't count as books. In addition, the audio books there are course books. The course books are definitely not theatrical productions. They are books.

Then the point is brought up that we should be able then mark the course books. From my understanding of this post the course books won't be marked as not a book. The problem is that the course books cannot be found using the search feature.

To find the course book on goodreads, which has a copyright as a book, I had to go to amazon. Then search under books to get the ASIN number. There is no separate entry for the course book, just the audio marked as not a book. I tried this for a different course book but the ASIN did not pull up anything and typing the title obviously no longer works. So who knows if the book is on goodreads or not.

If goodreads, is going to go through and mark all the Great Courses that do have course books as NOT A BOOK then I hope they take the time to add all the course books in.

message 49: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 838 comments However most audiobooks are done from a printed/ebook not from recorded lectures which is what the great courses thee are...and as an audiobook listener I understand/comprehend the difference

message 50: by Jillian (new)

Jillian | 18 comments A book of lectures is still a book. I did not realize that we were being judged on the subject matter.

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