Goodreads, Goodreads… Wherefore Art Thou Goodreads?

You know, I’ve tried and I’ve tried…

I really have!

I have tried and I have tried to maintain a loving relationship with Goodreads.

I’ve done everything it’s asked me to do.

I’ve set up both a user and an Author account…

I’ve added all my books, both the ones I’ve written and (most of) the ones I’ve read…

I’ve sent out friend requests to other users who seem to have like literary tastes as I…

I’ve friended those who’ve requested the same of me…

But after nearly a decade of trying to find meaning and purpose in my relationship with Goodreads, all it’s ever shown me has been indifference and insurmountable complexities.

It and I just have never been able to click.

And now I’ve finally realized… finally admitted to myself… that it was never ever meant to be.

Seriously though…

Is it just me?

Does anyone else think that Goodreads is a mess?

That it’s totally user unfriendly?

That it’s completely unpleasant to look at?

That it’s hard to read?

And even harder to navigate?

With a feed that makes absolutely no sense?

And what in the F is up with that creepy totalitarian librarian system authors are forced to submit to?

I mean, c’mon!

All the mess was bearable, almost quaint even, when Goodreads was still a Mom & Pop operation…

But it is now owned by Amazon for Christ Almighty’s Sake!

Jeff Bezos is so rich he’s buying the moon just so he can be the first to establish a market share there.

We authors should be getting pedicures and massages every time we log onto Goodreads for Christ Almighty’s Sake!

I mean, if it wasn’t for books and the authors who wrote them then Amazon would just be known as some piddley-ass insignificant river flowing through Asia or whatever continent it is that the river runs through!


Yeah, sure, I’ve tried other book sites behind Goodreads’ back…

I mean, Bookbub and I kind of had a thing for a while.

But you know what…

I think I’m not the kind of guy that appeals to any of them.

We just can’t work it out.

But it doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to work it out with Goodreads though.

But it does mean that the passion is gone, that my heart really won’t be in it, and that it will only be a relationship of necessity.

The love, what little of it there ever was…

Is gone.

46 thoughts on “Goodreads, Goodreads… Wherefore Art Thou Goodreads?”

  1. I really enjoy Goodreads, but then I’m only using it as a reader (so far) and I’m probably only trying to use a tiny fraction of the features. So maybe the features you’re frustrated with aren’t the same ones I like. What do you wish Goodreads did, or did better, that you aren’t getting?

    I only use it to keep track of my own book reviews and be accountable to my annual reading challenge goals, and to read reviews by a few of my friends who write nice long thoughtful reviews. Sometimes I’ll read reviews by strangers too, but that’s it.

    • Hi Joy! Ah, where do I begin… really it’s the things I mention in the post. It is very cluttered and not elegant in appearance or application. The feed confuses me as it seems like just a hodgepodge of things without rhyme or reason and there are so many redundant posts to me its almost pointless to try to stream through because I keep seeing the same posts over and over… and I especially get frustrated with the librarian system – which probably is just an author thing I don’t know. Ah, I could go on and on but this is probably more than enough for you. Good to hear from you, Joy 🙂

  2. Yeah I totally agree with you on this. Goodreads is so clunky to use. A couple of guys I work with read my novel and I asked them to leave a review via Goodreads, it took them quite a while to sign up and navigate the thing to the point where I had to walk them through. Considering its such an important place, you’d think they would make it a little bit easier to use…

  3. Kurt,
    Your description is exactly my experience with Goodreads, except for one point: I deleted my Goodreads account years ago. This was during the era of ‘mean girl reviewers’ in their engagement with romance authors. While I wasn’t targeted/harassed, observing was quite enough for me to decide I wanted no part of Goodreads. I haven’t returned.

    • Sheesh, what a tough business. Unfortunately I don’t really have the luxury of quitting it as an indie trying to slog out the ever elusive book sales or I would drop it like a hot potato…

      • Kurt,
        I empathize with your position between the rock and the hard place of book promotion and marketing. I find myself *occasionally* lamenting my decision to delete my Goodreads account. The idiom “cut off your nose to spite your face” often applies to me. I’m slowly reconsidering…

  4. I agree with you about clunky, Kurt. I still haven’t managed to figure out when it’s best to follow someone or to send out a friend request. But that’s probably just me. I’ve heard a lot of things about nastiness in Goodreads groups but haven’t experienced it myself (maybe because I don’t write romance?) I sometimes wonder how one becomes a Goodreads librarian, having been a real one for 30+ years.

    • You’re the second person who has mentioned the nastiness in GR romance groups. I had no idea. Makes me want to join one or two and have a little fun. The librarian system remains a strange mystery to me. If you ever get a peek behind the curtain, let me know what the bookish wizards look like. 🙂

  5. A lot of truth to this. I tried to join groups and enter discussion but it was too time-consuming and cumbersome to do so. And the listopia function likewise. As an author I’ve found it good for reviews and readers so will continue with it and I quite like recording my own reading and leaving reviews for other authors. I guess it’s a mixed bag!

    • You’re not the only one who prefers to review there, that’s for sure. I’m amazed how popular it remains despite how user unfriendly it is. As for me, I prefer to review books here and reading them via the WordPress “book reviews” tag. A much more pleasant experience for me all around.

  6. You are right on the money. Confusing and difficult to use, and yes, I’m sick of Amazon owning the world! I have had ZERO interaction from readers and many of the reviews are unnecessarily negative, posted by armchair critics who really don’t know what they are talking about. I will probably delete my author account and go back to simply checking on occasion for any useful comments.

  7. Hi Kurt!

    Love this post of yours.

    Until now, I thought I was the only one who thought Goodreads was extremely overrated.

    I am a blogger and use it for sharing book reviews there which I have written on my blog..

    I made my account last year but after hours of spending time on it, it still has not become any easier. You are right it is not user friendly at all. And I agree with you on your points that it’s completely unpleasant to look at, seems like a mess, hard to read and even harder to navigate, and the feed that makes absolutely no sense.

    The only reason I use Goodreads is to leave reviews and only because I heard somewhere that leaving reviews on Goodreads and Amazon is good for authors especially if they are new or indie. And I don’t leave reviews on Amazon as they have has this condition that in order to leave any review you have to have spent at least 50$ there. Why would I want to spend above 8000 PKR there is beyond me.

    I am also among the people who get annoyed because of most of the things being owned by Amazon. Book Depository is also owned by Amazon and I hate that they claim to ship worldwide. There are a lot of countries they don’t ship to. So I believe they should not claim to ship worldwide as it is a lie. I am from Pakistan and they don’t ship to Pakistan so they should state if there are some countries they don’t believe to be the part of this world. Or should stop using the word, ‘worldwide’.

    I mostly avoid opening the Goodreads tab nowadays and check the box on Netgalley that automatically publishes my review on Goodreads.

    • Wow. Sounds like your grievances with GR far surpasses mine. 🙂 I’m not down on amazon at all, or hating on their success, I just wish they’d fix GR since they own it.

      • I never knew there was a spend limit until Shanza mentioned it… I guess because I do so much shopping there, aka spend so much money there, it was never an issue for me.

    • I’d never heard of a spending limit in order to leave a review, either. There certainly isn’t any such limit or requirement here in the UK. I purchased something for £1 yesterday and was free to leave a review. I’ve asked a few people and they’ve said the same. I wonder if it’s just limited/requirement by country?

      • It’s an annual limit, not per product. This is from Amazon UK’s Community Guidelines:

        “Who can write a review?
        To write a Customer Review, you must have spent at least £40 on Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the £40 minimum. After you meet this requirement, you’ll be able to review any product on regardless of where you purchased that product. We don’t permit reviews of the same product from customers in the same household.”

  8. “That it’s totally user unfriendly?

    That it’s completely unpleasant to look at?

    That it’s hard to read?

    And even harder to navigate?”

    I think this every time I visit, which isn’t often because I find the navigation utterly illogical. I was a Lit Major for two years before I switched to Psych, and I often think, Lit Majors designed the navigation for this site. (My bad!) It is like a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and it is so counterintuitive, that I always forget, EVERYTIME, where to go to post a review, and have to hunt around for it forever.

    • Exactly. A good bad example (there’s so many to choose from) is yesterday after reading your excellent review of Filthy Rich, I wanted to read more of your reviews but could I figure out where they were? Nope. What a mess of a site it is.

  9. So true…on every count. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that the same people who created Smashwords created Goodreads–they’re both totally unusable.

  10. When I first put my books on Goodreads I started a blog and did book reviews – in the hope of being blessd by the Goodreads angel. That didn’t work. After too long I realised everyone else was writing their blogs on WordPress so I gave that a go and found much more interaction with other writers. In the meantime I couldn’t seem to post another blog on Goodreads – technically I couldn’t get in. I still review books on Goodreads, especially as Amazon keeps rejecting my reviews! I understand nothing else about G and am too invisible to have experienced any nastiness!

    • I guess I need to look into this spend requirement further. Is it only a one-time requirement, meaning once you spend the 50 lb/$ then you’re good for life to review? Or is this a reoccurring requirement? And I don’t understand why you can’t post on GR anymore. You should be able to link your blog to it so your posts are automatically shared to it.


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