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Suggestions & Questions > How about a "To Collect" and/or a "Reference"

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message 1: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:33PM) (new)

Seth | 78 comments Books have to be on either the Read or To Read shelf (or Currently Reading?). How about a "To Collect" shelf? I have books I do not intend to read, either because of their value and the damage I might do (various first editions or limited-run novellas) or because they are complete crap and I only keep them as mementos of whomever gave them to me.

Similarly, with reference books I don't know whether to mark them as "read" or "to read." They're neither.

I won't bother to ask for a "Bought to get it out of the used bookstore so no one would accidentally try to read this garbage" shelf, as I expect few people would use it, and I'd only have like three books on it (but multiple copies of each).


message 2: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:33PM) (new)

Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 83 comments Seth, there's a lenghty discussion on this very topic in the thread I've linked below:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show_g...


message 3: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Rob McMonigal | 41 comments That strikes me as more something a user can do personally rather than as a default shelf, since as I see it, the purpose here is to share what we read, not so much what we're trying to collect. But hey, maybe i'm in the minority on this one...

-Rob


message 4: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Seth | 78 comments Thanks, Jessica, I'll go read that.

Rob, I just want things off my "read" list that I haven't read or can't read. If the answer is to not have them on Goodreads at all, even if I want to rate or review them, then that works, but I'd love to include them. Reference books are a better example than collectables, maybe. Possibly all non-narrative, non-technical books. I can definitely rate and review Companion to Narnia or The Joys of Yiddish, but I'm not sitting down and reading them straight through. That's neither how they're intended to be read nor useful for reviewing them.

But honestly, I haven't been able to find a statement of purpose for this site. What is the intended audience? What is the intended usage? I'm just playing around right now, but it's something that really bothers me.


message 5: by rivka, librarian moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

rivka | 12269 comments Mod
Personally, I have no problem listing as "read" most things on my reference shelf. Have I necessarily read them cover-to-cover? No, not most of them. Would I guess I'd read a good chunk of each? Sure.

Anyway, I list books I never finished reading and probably never will (generally not with terribly high ratings ;) ) as "read" too.


message 6: by Lisa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 8939 comments I'm with Rivka. I've marked as read several books on my reference shelf. A few I've read cover to cover but most I've read enough of to rate and review. (which I already said in another thread somewhere)

Seth, As far as intended usage, one of the things I love about this site is it's up to the individual user exactly how they want to keep their books lists. And, if you don't like how another user is using the site, you don't have to spend any time at their profile/information.


message 7: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 228 comments I'd like to second what both Rivka and Lisa said.

I'd also like to note my puzzlement at a lot of users' apparent concern about how other users are using this site. I've seen this sort of thing a number of times now -- people complaining that other people just use stars and don't write reviews; or that other people have too many old books on their shelves, or too many children's books, or whatever. As long as it's serving your purpose, why does it matter to you how anyone else is using it? And why would it "bother" you that the site has no statement of purpose? A bunch of people now have expressed similar sentiments, and I don't understand it at all. On Twitter or Facebook or Pownce or any number of social networking sites, you never see people fretting over how other people are using the site, or complaining that other people don't have the same stringent standards for using the site, or the same purity of vision, or whatever. Why is it so different here? It's very odd, to me.

I'm also awfully curious, Seth: what books have you bought just so other people couldn't read them? I mean, not that I'm not glad that you're busy keeping the readers safe from things that they might not be able to handle, or that might warp their minds, but I'd be curious to hear the titles.


message 8: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Mark | 36 comments Laura, on your comments about how people use the site, since you and I have chatted about this before and I started out as one of the guilty parties, I've given this a little more thought.

I think if it were just a social networking site, you wouldn't see so many of these comments. But this combines the networking function with a judgment or evaluative function, and that's where the friction arises.

Just as the Columbia Journalism Review piece I sent out mentioned that there ought to be some elitism involved in good book reviewing, I think many people who join the site have some elitism -- but their definitions of how that elitism ought to be applied differ. I wanted to see thoughtful reviews. Other people want to see only certain kinds of books listed. Others probably want to screen out people who do the "gee whiz deedly-bop" kind of reviews. Some people have griped about my shorter impressionistic reviews.

In any case, as I said before, I've come to your position: that people can use the site any way they want and others can ignore or avoid the people they don't respect. I certainly think there's nothing wrong in turning down certain friend requests if they don't fit what you're looking for.

I also think some of the features that have been added, like Otis' voting function on reviews, is a way of trying to use the wisdom of the crowd to elevate the reviews that have the most meaning for people.


message 9: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Michael | 39 comments Laura, where are people complaining? I don't doubt you, but I'd love to read what people are saying.

Incidentally I am firmly rooted in the boat with you and Mark. Goodreads is what you make it!


message 10: by rivka, librarian moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

rivka | 12269 comments Mod
As long as it's serving your purpose, why does it matter to you how anyone else is using it? And why would it "bother" you that the site has no statement of purpose?

Agreed 100%.


On Twitter or Facebook or Pownce or any number of social networking sites, you never see people fretting over how other people are using the site, or complaining that other people don't have the same stringent standards for using the site, or the same purity of vision, or whatever.

Actually, people do. Maybe not on those sites themselves (I don't know -- I don't use any of them), but most definitely elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is, people judge other people -- their cars, their websites, their myspace or livejournal, their taste in books, etc., etc. Not a problem, IMO. However, determining that your judgment should be the measuring stick for everyone else IS a problem. We'll just have to smack around those who push that view. ;)

Hey, Seth, consider this your head start. :D


message 11: by Otis, Chief Goodreader (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 4184 comments Mod
Hey all,

Great discussion! My personal solution, and one that many people use, is to put such books in both the 'read' and 'reference' shelf. Or even a 'partially-read' or 'didnotfinish' shelf. This way its clear when someone sees it on your shelf that you haven't read it cover to cover.

However the fact that this topic keeps creeping up makes it clear that our solution is still not ideal. We are planning to improve the shelfing UI a bit soon, and hopefully that will improve matters.


message 12: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 228 comments Michael, there was a rather long discussion on the issue, spanning a couple different threads for some reason, in the Poetry group. One user suggested, apparently seriously, that the developers here should remove the option to rate book with just stars and instead implement a system where users had to write reviews of at least one paragraph. The basis for this suggestion was that users who rated books only with stars weren't upholding "their obligations to the group" or some such. When it was suggested to this user that he could simply ignore the star-only reviews if he found them of no use, he just sort of kept saying, "Well, but people should write reviews because they have obligations to the other users" and so forth. Wha? I know I've seen other discussions about how people should use this site only in prescribed ways, but unfortunately, I don't recall where anymore.

As for Twitter etc., I don't doubt that there are criticisms of those sites. I can assure you, though, that the number of tweets I've ever seen saying, "This site is boring! Why don't people only post really important, meaningful stuff?" or whatever, equals precisely zero. On Twitter, people simply don't follow people whose posts whose posts they find dull or unimportant or un-useful. Seems kinda obvious to me. Although I think in his post above, Mark was getting at the difference between Twitter and this site, there's nothing inherent here saying it should be more grand and meaningful because it deals with books.

Anyway, I think Rivka nails it here:

The fact of the matter is, people judge other people -- their cars, their websites, their myspace or livejournal, their taste in books, etc., etc. Not a problem, IMO. However, determining that your judgment should be the measuring stick for everyone else IS a problem.

(And Mark, I laughed out loud at the phrase "gee whiz deedly-bop kind of reviews.")


message 13: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Michael | 39 comments I haven't even heard of Twitter.

It's so easy to take other people's judgement and send it to /dev/null .

Frankly, I feel as though I contribute a lot to goodreads - not that I'm REQUIRED to, of course, but I enjoy it. :D


message 14: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Rindis | 47 comments They also serve who only stand and rate.

(or should that be 'sit and rate'?)


message 15: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Seth | 78 comments Why do I care about a statement of purpose: I want to know what the site creators want from the site. I want to know where they're taking the site. If I just wanted to make a list of my books, I have Excel.

When i first heard about this site it was pitched to me as "a way to know what your friends are reading." I replied, "I know what my friends are reading because, well, they're my friends and I talk to them." Since then I've played with the site and found it entertaining.

I can participate in book reviews and ratings on Amazon. My friends are reading books they tell me about, loan to me, or borrow from me. If they wouldn't mention a book to me, they certainly wouldn't list it on a public site.

If I want regular recommendations I have a wide variety of sources: Borderlands Books monthly newsletter, various discussion groups and forums (I refuse to say fora :-), my only right as an American that I still have left is to mispronounce other languages!), etc.

Like I said, I'm finding this entertaining. Currently, I'm comparing it to Greencine for books, but not a rental site because paying to rent books is a silly idea. If you're a renter-type, you can use free public libraries. (Greencine is like Netflix, but with comminity features and a focus on documentary/independent/foreign/anime, so it has discussions and user-made-groupings and so forth.)

The people who run this site seem neat. I'd like to know why they created it and what they want from it, because that's what we can expect, to some degree. That may give me some heads-up as to when I'll cease to be entertained.

I'd also like to know what the business model, if any, of the site is/will be.


Why do I care about the "read" shelf? It just bugs me to put books like Companion to Narnia, any of my Star Trek or Dr Who Trivia books, Gunness records, Book of Lists, Bathroom Readers, etc. on a shelf that inicates--now only implies--that I've read them, for some definition of "read" that isn't really realistic.

I'm just being a little compulsive about the Read folder. It seems to strike a nerve in that some people have a reaction similar, but often not the same, as mine and other people feel a need/obliged to jump up and say not to complicate things (assuming any change would increase complexity measurably).

I read one of the other threads about the subject and couldn't find any consensus or official solution; I think the subject is still an interesting one to debate. it bring up questions like, what do we have books for? How are reading a book and owning a copy related? Is an e-book (like the Baen free library) the same as a print book for whatever purpose you choose/think this site has?

These questions interest (well, entertain :-) ) me and they have implications for how I would use the site. Maybe they don't matter to you, though. If so, please minimize the energy you spend telling me that it shouldn't matter to me.


Michael, Twitter is a system for reading text messages from people who have time to send a text message whenever they change tasks (go to work, go to the store...) or think they have something to say that a) fits in 160 characters and b) is urgently important to get in front of an unknown number of people.

It's also yet another stream of data (which may or may not contain information) that you can use if your level of stimulation is below your level of caffeination :-)


Rivka, do I understand that you want to "smack [me] around" for suggesting something I would like to see on the site (in the Feedback group, no less) or or proposing a solution to something that bothers?

Have we reached threats and ad hominem attacks over the question of whether reference books count as "read"?


message 16: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 228 comments Uh, Rivka can speak for herself, of course, but I do believe she was making, you know, zee leetle joke.

As for me, I'm still awfully curious to hear what books you bought just to keep other people from reading them. Surely you're not embarrassed to list them?


message 17: by rivka, librarian moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

rivka | 12269 comments Mod
What Laura said. I'd make another joke, and say the only people I really smack around are my kids . . . but I'd be afraid you'd take me seriously, and call DCS.

In terms of the meat of your post, I guess the mission statement might be a good place to start. http://www.goodreads.com/about/us

Maybe you don't need this site to find out what your friends are reading. But I have frequently found surprises on friends' shelves -- including some I've known and discussed books with for decades.


message 18: by Belinda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Belinda | 16 comments Like Laura, I'm fascinated by the concept of buying a book JUST to keep it out of the hands of other people--this blows my mind.

I'm also rather astonished at the great amount of energy being expended in questioning the "value" or "purpose" of an elective application that costs you nothing. Just seems...odd, to me.


message 19: by Jen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Jen | 34 comments I don't know, but it seems like maybe this site isn't for you, then, if you have these major gripes with the system. I can't even imagine having to write a review for every single John Grisham I've ever read, for example, because after a while they're all the same...giving it a star reminds ME what I thought about it. Yes, this is an "social networking" site, but it's also a tool for me to keep track of what I've read and what I want to read. I'd rather reserve my reviews for books that deserve them (my own "elitism" showing).

I think it's fantastic that people are reading and using this site to think about what they're reading. It's clear from reading reviews that some folks are young, or have limited writing skills, or read only "pop" materials, but more power to 'em. They're READING.

Also, if you don't like the "read" shelf, create your own that says "reference_unread" or something. How often do you REALLY go into someone else's shelves and read all of the books they've marked as "read"? If they're major users of the site, then they will have created shelves that are more descriptive, like "reference" or "companion_books." THOSE shelves are the ones that matter (or are helpful).

Also number two: do you really think people are going to judge you for a book that's partially read on your "read" shelf? I'd hate to think that my friends or random strangers actually judge things like that.

This site is a wonderful, fantastic tool. It doesn't do everything I'd like it to in my dream world, but with nearly 600 books, and many reviews, I'm finding it useful and fun. It's good that you're finding some philosophical material to debate, but c'mon.


message 20: by Marley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:35PM) (new)

Marley (MarleyMagaziner) | 18 comments I think this discussion revolves around how you define the word "read" and therefore how you should treat that shelf. From the way the site works, I take it to mean not-currently-reading and not-to-read. It's the default, the none-of-the-above, the catch-all shelf. If it just had a different name, would that make everyone happy? Is this just a question of semantics? I am perfectly happy having the word mean one thing in the goodreads context and another in the outside world. Think of it not as the past-tense of "to read" but as a command, "READ!" so whenever you put something on that shelf you feel empowered and literary and well-read. I take it to mean, "yay reading!" so everything that's not on the other 2 shelves is just a happy book on a shelf.


message 21: by Otis, Chief Goodreader (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 4184 comments Mod
Seth, thanks for your very well-written points. I like it when technical people can communicate well!

I'd like to respond briefly to your question of why we built Goodreads and where its going. Perhaps some of us keep in touch with all our friends and know what they are reading, but realistically we are all so busy and probably only get the short tail of recommendations from friends, if even that. Goodreads was built because I wanted to see the whole long tail of all the books my friends had read and liked. Yes, you can get book recommendations and write reviews in other places, but Goodreads is the only place where you can see at a glance what all your friends thought of a given book. It has a second value it adds, in that it is a very emotionally rewarding experience to re-explore all the books you've ever read and remember what you thought of them. When you can help people learn about themselves, you are providing a valuable service. Now as for where Goodreads is going - the possibilities are endless! But mostly we're trying to become really really good at what we already do :)

Regarding the default shelves, there is one main use case they do not cover: books I own but don't intend to read. I think, as I mentioned before, they work decently (albeit not perfectly) for reference-type books that haven't been read cover-to-cover. However we did not design for "books I own but won't read", because in our view the site is about exploring books you've read, and finding new books to read. Cataloging all the books you own just for the sake of having a complete list is a nice idea, but doesn't seem to have much of a point. What value do you or your friends get out of seeing them on your shelves?

However, we are committed to making Goodreads work for as many people as possible, so we don't want anyone thinking "maybe this site isn't for me since it doesn't do what I want". So we will promise to continue to read your comments, and try to find a better solution!


message 22: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Seth | 78 comments Rivka, sorry if I didn't get the intended humor. I'm surprised at how much people seem to care about this topic and I've seen way too many people go off the deep end in online communication, so I react cautiously, especially when it's directed at someone by name.

In person, or if we'd been in a discussion community for a long time and knew one another, it wouldn't have been a problem.

Also, thank you for the link to the mission statement.


About the books I've bought to get them off the shelf... Now I have to go an explain the joke and some people will have to stop assuming I'm Seth Censordall. What fun is life if people don't just assume the worst about me? ;-)

The books I've bought to get them off a used bookstore's shelves are, of course, mostly a joke. There are a few truly awful books out there (2150: A Macro Love Story is the one that jumps to mind) that I'll show to a friend in a store and say "we need to buy this to save some poor soul from getting it accidentally!" and then give the copy to a friend who doesn't have one, explaining that they now have a sacred duty to let no one read it. Of course, I know they'll read it and complain to me for year about it, but that's the fun.

In the case of 2150, there seem to be an endless supply of editions and it's nowhere near collectible, so I'm not depriving the strange people who really want it of their only chance to get one.

And if I'm alone in the store I wouldn't bother, although--if I knew the bookstore owner/clerk--I might make a jobe about it. It's a social game.

And, of course, having mentioned it here, some of you will no doubt go read it and hate me forever :-)


message 23: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Rindis | 47 comments Must-resist-urge-to-go-find-book.


message 24: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 228 comments I bet you're real fun at parties, Seth.


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