The popular reading site Goodreads was created in 2006 by Otis and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler to help readers find books to suit their tastes and provide authors with more direct reviews from their audience. Under Amazon, the site has grown to over 90 million members, helping readers all over the world find their perfect read.
At the time of its creation, Goodreads was a one-of-a-kind social media platform that promised readers something that no other site did: a community specifically dedicated to reading as a hobby and a lifestyle. However, the Goodreads site has yet to update its services in over a decade, and that’s a problem.
The site that once was the go-to spot for book recommendations for not-the-average readers has dwindled down to a simple listing website. People can make their own lists under various categories, and the site itself will make its own lists of favorites reads, but that’s basically it. Worse still, the site that once encouraged new and upcoming authors to use their services requires a payment fee that most small publishers and self-publishing authors cannot afford. This means that the same authors and their books are being pushed forward to readers’ pages, regardless of relevancy. Many authors have also been the victim of false reviews from bots and trolls who “one-star” a book without ever having read it. On the opposite end, the site allows readers to “five-star” a book without reading it either, meaning that books may be promoted simply because of author favoritism.
And then there are little things that irk readers during their daily usage of Goodreads: not being able to find a book by its exact title; automatic public reviews, without the option to keep your personal notes on a book private; and the simple, yet irritating fact the book recommendation website continues to promote the most basic reading options, catering to “an audience of people with insanely bland and entry-level taste.” Whether you are an avid reader or a new reader defining your taste, chances are you have already read the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The site needs to do dive deeper than just recommending the obvious.
While Goodreads is not perfect, there are not many other sites like it that are dedicated to readers. An uptick in “bookstagrammers” on Instagram and “book-tokers” on TikTok has given a visual to written book reviews. Neither of these spaces is dedicated to readers though. Goodreads is, unfortunately, still the best of its kind. Seeing as the site’s parent company is Amazon, it clearly has the resources it needs to grow and expand past its original, simple features.
It’s 2021, and with a boom in reading sparked during the pandemic, readers are looking for more than just what they’d see at their local bookstore. Hopefully, Goodreads will hear their audience’s plea for better services. Otherwise, readers everywhere will be forced to turn elsewhere.
featured image via amazon