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Why I've Left Goodreads

Four Piles of old books


As with many avid readers, I like to keep track of the books that I have read. Starting in middle school, I used a spiral notebook to log all of the books that I read within a year. This continued until April 2007, when I met Goodreads founder Otis Chandler at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.


Chandler had just launched Goodreads four months earlier and was hitting the pavement to tell readers about his new book-themed social media website. Goodreads provided a place for readers to track their books, write reviews, and connect with other readers. The social media side has always been a bit clunky, but throughout my time using Goodreads, I was able to connect with other readers both virtually and in-real life, including book clubs. I even ended up in a three-year relationship from one of the bookclubs!


I joined the site the same day that I met Chandler, and the first book that I logged was Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Living to Tell the Tale. Goodreads has brought me a lot of joy throughout the years and I used it consistently until July 2023.


Why I've left Goodreads....


Here's the deal, Amazon purchased Goodreads in 2013. I did not realized this. I didn't actually connect that Amazon owned Goodreads until I started working at Tattered Cover and had a discussion with one of my coworkers. Until I worked at an indie bookstore, I did not realize the extent that Amazon harms many areas of the book industry.


Last spring, I read Danny Caine's How to Resist Amazon and Why. Caine owns Raven Book Store in Kansas and has taken it upon himself to raise awareness as to how Amazon is harming the book industry. His little book is enlightening and was part of my early inspiration for starting


One part of Caine's book speaks to the other businesses that are part of the Amazon ecosystem, such as Goodreads. He urges readers to resist giving Amazon information, such as book reviews, through these sites.


Knowing that Goodreads was part of Amazon and knowing that I no longer want to help Amazon was the driving force for me to seek out an alternative book tracking website. Goodreads has also changed a lot in recently years. There has been an uptick in negative behavior, such as members attempting to sink a book that they have not even read through truly aggressive and nasty reviews. Paying for positive reviews is even more common place. As with many social media sites, the not-so-flattering aspects of human nature are coming out and something that was at one time a fun and helpful place to be, has changed. However, I'd also argue that Amazon's dominance over the book industry hasn't helped this behavior. Many authors feel that it is necessary to get those Goodreads and Amazon reviews, particularly, those who has self-published with Amazon. It's a vicious cycle and it has changed the landscape of Goodreads.


So, what to do? I've spoke with colleagues and other indie bookstore supporters, and I've decided to switch over to The Storygraph. Founded in 2019 by Nadia Odunayo, The Storygraph is one of the strongest competitors to Goodreads. It's the site that indie bookstores are pushing as a Goodreads/Amazon alternative. It has similarities. You can track your books, write reviews, and connect with friends on The Storygraph, same as Goodreads. However, The Storygraph has some cool additional features, such as pie charts and graphs to give you more detailed data on your reading habits. It's quite interesting.


Making the switch was easy. I was able to upload all of my book data from Goodreads to The Storygraph, so that I didn't lose nearly two decades of book tracking. I made the leap right after the new year and I wasn't the only person. There was such a surge of people joining The Storygraph that the servers crashed and It took a few weeks for my Goodreads data to appear on The Storygraph. Now that it is all there, I'm exploring the site and happy that I've make the switch.


I've not deleted my Goodreads page yet. Honestly, I'm not quite ready to let go. However, I'm thrilled to have made the initial steps away from this aspect of Amazon and to support an alternative solution that is both in line with my values and with the goals of Books Inside Boxes.


If you're using Goodreads or looking for a book tracking site, I hope that you'll consider The Storygraph. Also, feel free to connect with me on The Storygraph, User name: Karenleagermain.

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