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Finding a replacement for Goodreads

After Goodreads deleted content – both reviews and shelves – of readers as well as indicated that they would continue to do so in the future (only this time they’ll provide notice), many readers feel like Goodreads is not a safe place for them.  Ironically, many many authors hate Goodreads feeling that the place is unsafe for them as well.  Undoubtedly sites like Stop the Goodreads Bullies which has defamed and doxxed reviewers allowing them to be called at their place of business and at home bu approvingly cited by so many purported reputable journalism sources, ratchet up the tension making both sides targets.  Nonetheless, the question is where can readers go to discuss books they don’t like as well as the ones they do without interference from authors complaining about mistreatment?

There really aren’t great options and I’m going to propose an unusual one at the bottom.  Before leaving Goodreads, make sure you go to My Books and look on the left hand side for the import/export button. You’ll want to take your books with you before you shutter your GR account.

Goodreads import export

First, the right replacement for Goodreads will largely depend on the user.

Riffle

If you are using Goodreads to catalog and rate as well as share your reading choices with others (and get recommendations based on the similarities between what you are reading and enjoying, then consider two sources:  Riffle, Libib and Pinterest.

Riffle is essentially Pinterest for books.  You can search their catalog, select a book, and add it to your shelf.  This is designed for graphic oriented readers.  There is no place to leave reviews and no place for interaction (other than repinning).  Pinterest is the large social sharing network.  You have to find the book you want to add to your shelf and then “pin it”.  You can create different “boards” such as A Reads | B Reads and genre based boards.  The advantage of Riffle is the already created catalog source.  The benefit of Pinterest is that you aren’t limited to what is in the Riffle catalog (ie., a lot of indies aren’t there) but you lack the built in reading community.

Libib allows you to upload book lists from a csv file, write reviews, search by keyword, import via a ISBN and UPC scanner, create tags and multiple libraries.  It’s a great way to keep a catalog of your books, but it doesn’t have a good sharing option.

A couple of others that fall in the category of catalogue but limited sharing would be weRead.com, Bookish (run by publishers), and BookGlutton.

If you are using Goodreads to interact with other readers then your primary choices are LibraryThingBookLikes, and Reading Room.

Library Thing

All three have terms of service that allow the deletion of your content if they feel it violates your user agreement.  Library Thing  is a similar source on the internet to Goodreads.  It allows you to create an account, add books to your catalog, create lists, write reviews, and share those with other members. The interface isn’t as elegant as Goodreads and there is a cost.  A free membership allows you to add 200 books to your shelf. You have to pay $10 per year to have an unlimited bookshelf or $25 for life.  The social aspect isn’t as strong.

Amazon doesn’t own 40%. ABE, owned by Amazon, purchased 40% share. Bowker purchased 40% of ABE’s 40%. Overall, Tim Spaulding owns 60% with the minority share split amongst at least two different entities.

Reading Room is a free service that allows you to add up to 5000 books to your shelves.  The shelves you use are predetermined.  Reading Room also reserves the right to delete your content should it violate their terms of service.  Acceptable use means that you must not “restrict or inhibit any other user from using or enjoying any part of the site.”  Reading Room divides user generated content into “reviews” which is content more than 40 words and “discussion” which is less than 40 words. It does not seem like it would be easy to interact with other readers based on their content.  From a social stand point, the way that the comments/reviews run linearly below the review is limiting.

http://dearauthor.com/misc/online-personal-libraries-and-book-social-media-sites/

Most of the people who I follow at Goodreads have left for Booklikes.  Booklikes has a tumblr like interface, almost blog-like. There’s a lot to like about Booklikes. You can customize the look and feel of your “shelf” by installing a new background design.  A downside is I saw a lot of promotional things on the site and that might just be who I followed accidentally or by default.  While most of the content created on Goodreads was book related, Booklikes allows you to create posts and status updates that are completely general.

You can create the types of shelves that you like, interact with other readers about books and book related things.  It has a decent search feature. You can follow and unfollow people without having to accept a friend request. You can “reblog” something you like on another bookshelf as well as favorite a post and comment on the post.

Some people have already expressed concerned that they are being targeted by authors and that the owner of BookLikes has already reached out to a set of authors for help in weeding out people.

Stop the Goodreads Bullies

 

What readers really need is a private area where they can connect to other readers, share their thoughts about books, and not be afraid some site full of terrible people constantly looking over your shoulder ready to report you for any imagined infraction. A possible alternative is a private facebook group or message board could be created. Authors do this all the time to create “safe” places to privately share information.  Authors use private facebook groups to coordinate street team activities and to have fans interact with each other. A private Facebook group would allow readers to post about books they’ve read without fear of an author intruding.

A final option is a new site called LitLush.  The site hasn’t launched yet but I’ve heard that there will be private shelves, filter feeds, and custom groups.  Readers really need the option to make their profiles and reviews private on a case by case basis, even if they have to pay for it.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

65 Comments

  1. Katie
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 05:56:07

    I can’t help myself, I don’t really like BookLikes so far, I am still exporting my GR books there, but I already know it won’t be the same as GR. I like looking at the covers of the books I’ve read so far and BL is still in its early days it seems, many book infos are incomplete with covers and blurbs missing. Also, the system doesn’t apparently recognise all of my titles (way over 3000) so that I can’t import more than 800 titles. I just wish that the GR members uproar will be strong enough for Amazon to cease and desist its censorship, it has a touch of “Hitler-dom” to it. I am an honest reviewer and grader, I DNF and one star books and tell my opinion why, but always try to stay above the belt and not bash the author. If Amazon doesn’t like that, they should put up a reminder that everything below three stars gets you deleted and censored.

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  2. kaystj
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 06:07:04

    Thanks for a well researched piece!

    I’m on the lookout for a replacement too, ever since the debacle has started. I’m currently “residing” on LibraryThing, and so far so good. What I really really like about them is that you book data, once entered, never changes — even if you have for example a typo on the name they let it stay this way on your copy. When I first read that they do this I thought it was a bit overkill, keeping so much user-specific data.

    However, while looking through my book list on Goodreads, I discovered that some of my book titles have changed there — usually just the language, but there is also an Unknown Book written by an Unknown Author that I have no idea what it was before. So now I am super happy that LibraryThing keeps your book data separate and not editable by others, because I imagine that this way I will not suddenly wake up to Unknown Books anymore :)
    This is very important to me, since whatever it is the site I am using, I use it to keep track of the 1000+ books I want to read one day, so losing some of them is a definite no-no. If I hadn’t already been moving from Goodreads when I noticed my data missing, I would probably have considered moving then.

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  3. Linda
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 07:13:16

    I’m hanging on at Goodreads for now. Although I have experienced the bullies on the feedback page. They foolishly thought I was an author sock puppet posting to annoy them when in fact I’m just an avid reader with a real life that doesn’t hinge on the politics going on in a reading website. Sorry to be snobbish as I think that’s what I was called but there are real people out there that buy lots of books from amazon, read on their kindles, and enjoy hearing from the more publicized authors on Goodreads. We are called consumers and we don’t make our decisions based on a frustrated group of people that seem to be behaving badly.

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  4. Lizabeth S. Tucker
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 08:24:27

    I like to post reviews of what I have read. I currently do it in three places: my Live Journal account, GoodReads and Amazon. Although I had joined GoodReads years ago, I didn’t truly start posting there until about a year ago. I have not experienced the bullying, but I did over at Amazon.

    I don’t see anything among your other possibilities that really appeal to me. None seem to be as extensive in what they offer and what they allow as Goodreads at this time. To be honest, I only take suggestions for new books from friends and people I trust, not computer generated programs so that aspect isn’t really needed by me. I only interact with other book loving friends on Twitter, with a dollop of interaction on Facebook, so again, not looking for that.

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  5. Danielle D
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 08:27:39

    I have to admit that I have a GoodReads account but I’m not very active. Years ago I kept track of my books over at Shelfari! But I haven’t been there in over a year.

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  6. gayle63
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:14:31

    I lost all respect for Goodreads long ago – it does seem to be a mean girls’ club in many cases. I’ve seen one-star reviews left for books that were still in editing, so there’s no way any reader could have gotten their hands on them. I have also heard from several authors who have been harrassed by crazy people. I don’t understand what kind of sick satisfaction people get out of trashing books or authors. I respect a one-star review that’s written with at least some objectivity with clear reasons for the rating. But a personal diatribe or a review based on one reader’s personal likes and dislikes just seems like juvenile venting on the reviewer’s part. Or worse, the one- or two-star review with no justification at all. I’m sure there are plenty of five-star reviews left by family and friends, as well, so all in all, I would say the review system is a joke. Perhaps accepting reviews only from people who have evidence they’ve actually purchased the book would be a start.

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  7. Cindy
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:15:19

    I’ve used Goodreads but don’t really like it. Never have, but that might be partially because I’m miffed that after about 2000 entries, I’ve yet to win more than one giveaway. I’m in the process of moving to BookLikes because I like the blog area, but my heart remains firmly at Shelfari. I just really like the feel and ease of use of it.

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  8. Jane
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:18:28

    @gayle63: There are far more five star reviews left with no content for early releases than there are one star reviews. I wonder why people focus on that so much.

    I’m curious what you view as “trashing” v. an objective opinion with clear reasons. Can you give examples so we can better understand your point of view?

    I remember when Nathan Bransford linked to two reviews he thought were trashing a book and both were passionate but provided a laundry list with excerpts from the book as to why the book was really not for them. So I’m always curious what a “trashing” review is.

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  9. Amanda
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:21:16

    Thanks so much for writing this piece, I think either the soon to be Litlush or Booklikes are the best options for me. Though i am not really sold on Booklikes because it seems too Tumblr like for me, I just don’t quite understand Tumblr.

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  10. Holly Bush
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:40:48

    I’ve enjoyed GR as an author and as a reader. I like the look and feel of the graphics. But while I read quite a bit, I’ve never gotten into sorting and cataloguing my read books and TBR that some folks do, sometimes to my own regrets when I begin a book I think is new to me, and find I’d read it. But I stopped interacting (other than one group) on GR about six months ago. I was tired of the reviewer bashing and the author stalking. If I’m interested in boorish, immature behavior, I can read about the US Congress.

    As authors, we must remember we are capitalists and therefore sales are market-driven. Some people will like our work and others won’t and the reasons they do or don’t, especially don’t, like the book may seem irrational to the author. But often writers react emotionally to reviews and comments (which is fine in the privacy of your home) in a public setting like GR and then the gloves come off when readers are offended by something the author says or implies or sometimes doesn’t even mean in a negative way, but because of the nature of the internet seems offensive. I try and learn from negative reviews but the ONLY way to REACT is to walk away.

    I’ve never personally been attacked by the reader trolls but have watched writers be buried in negative nonsense by the other side of our market-driven equation. An author didn’t end a book the way they wanted it to end, the author used a trope they don’t like, the author didn’t give a high enough rating to another favorite book, or whatever injury is perceived should not constitute the equivalent of an internet gang bombing the author’s public house.

    Sadly, the internet is the perfect breeding ground for bad behavior and there is a some percentage of readers and authors that are lacking in manners and don’t understand the concepts of respect and civility, as is the case in the general population. I do what I always do when I encounter that type of person – disengage and move on. Life is far too short to be bogged down with petty fights over minutia that will be forgotten in flash.

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  11. cecilia
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 09:41:26

    @gayle63: Not everyone uses GR as a site for reviewing books. I used it for a long time before I started actually writing reviews. It was primarily a way to keep track of authors I’d read, and to be able to recall whose work I liked and whose I could not stand. So, in those cases, a 1-star rating was for me – a reminder not to waste money on that person again. People can use or dismiss that limited amount of information as they please.

    I write reviews now, some of the time, but as far as I’m concerned, a person giving a 1-star rating is no more obligated to defend her stance than a person giving a 5-star rating. “I didn’t like it” is what the 1 star means, and that’s all that *needs* to be said. Anything more is extra.

    Also, why should people have to provide proof of purchase? If I borrow a book from the library or a friend, is that less legitimate?

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  12. kathy cole
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 10:26:16

    I’m trying out Booklikes (had some problems with the import), Library Thing and Libib (imported many fewer books than I’d hoped). I do a very little bit of social stuff on Goodreads, and then otherwise logged what and when I read, with the occasional few words – mostly to remind myself what I did or didn’t like.

    All of the stupidity the last couple of weeks meant I pulled my books and won’t work as a librarian on Goodreads any longer. Am really hoping one of the three solutions above will work out well for me.

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  13. Amir
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 10:44:24

    I’ve made a blog account with Booklikes but LitLush certainly looks promising!

    @cecilia: Also, why should people have to provide proof of purchase? If I borrow a book from the library or a friend, is that less legitimate? Thank you, you make an excellent point.

    As for the trashy ratings/reviews in GR, I’ve seen both 1-star and 5-star reviews that seem dubious IMO but I really just ignore them. I’ve also read low reviews from reviewers I trust but still proceeded to read the book regardless because I wanted to find out for myself if the book will be just as bad for me. Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I don’t. I trust their opinion but I also make my own decisions.

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  14. LG
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 11:25:18

    My biggest gripe with LibraryThing right now is that there doesn’t seem to be a 1-click way to add individual books – their bookmarklet doesn’t work. I don’t understand why it isn’t possible to add a book directly on the LT page for the book.

    BookLikes is growing on me, although the blogging aspect feels redundant, since I already have a blog. I *really* wish they had a way to find readers with similar tastes, though.

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  15. Marcella
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 11:33:20

    Shelfari works fine for me too. Lots of possibilities to catalogue etc. and that’s all I want. I know it’s also owned by Amazon, but so far (5 years) I haven’t noticed any negative reviews being pulled or the vicious reviewing/commenting as on GR.

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  16. Talthor
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 11:37:08

    I agree with Gayle63 and cecilia. I’ve just started using Shelfari and Goodreads the last year to track my books. I have always used an excel program and as a result never felt the need to justify the ratings. I don’t participate in the social aspects of either program.

    There is an old saying more people should remember “different strokes for different folks”. There are a lot of books out there that receive rave reviews that to me are meh.

    Now I am debating stay or go only because it worries me that they could remove some of the books on my shelves.

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  17. Holly Bush
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 12:29:14

    @Marcella:

    I like Shelfari too, but I keep hearing rumors that it will be dumped as soon as Amazon gets GR where they want it. I can understand they may not want operate 2 sites that are so similar but it would be a shame if they closed it.

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  18. Willaful
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 12:54:51

    I don’t think facebook is really set up for book discussion in a useful way. And the other disadvantage of a private group is you won’t find new friends who share your tastes.

    I mostly used GR for the social aspects, so this was a real blow to me. I can review at my blog, but it’s hard to get interaction going at blogs these days. I suspect I’m mostly going to be getting my social fixes in other areas like Twitter, since Booklikes seems kind of cumbersome.

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  19. Tina
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 12:56:56

    I have to agree that I lost a LOT of respect for how Goodreads has conducted their business over the last two weeks or so.

    They had a TOS that people ostensibly agreed to when they signed up for the service. If some people subsequently had issues with that, then they should have been politely but firmly directed to re-read them in full.

    If GR changes their TOS, then there should have been a site-wide announcement so that all 20 million users got the opportunity to see what the changes are and are forced to agree to the new TOS. You know…kinda like what every other reputable website does.

    But the late Friday announcement in a feedback group where you have to be a subscriber to see it, and no answers to some very simple questions just struck me as weasely and cowardly.

    The response that their removal of the shelves and books of “only 21 users” without prior warning struck me as disingenuous and dishonest. Really? Only 21 users out of 20 million forced you to change your TOS?

    And I hate that it feels like they are throwing their readers (relationship they have strongly benefited from for years) under the bus to satisfy the concerns of some authors (a relationship they are trying to build).

    Prior to all that, I would have said that GR was one of my favorite websites. I have had no content removed, my shelves are very vanilla and do not mention authors. I have never engaged with an author negatively on the site. I could just chug along with GR, pretty sure that very little would change for me personally. But frankly I just can’t do that. There is such a sliminess to how they handled the whole thing. I am now reluctant to continue to add to their database. I am one of their top 1% of reviewers but since the announcement I haven’t added any content. I will most likely remain on GR for the social aspect, because I like the groups. But as far as reviewing is concerned I’ll most likely review on Booklikes and link to that from GR.

    Since it looks like they have alienated a lot of their power users, when all the dust settles, I fear that GR will end up being an author centric site that consists mainly of 3 sentence squee reviews.

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  20. Willaful
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 13:33:14

    @Tina: Ditto. I was in the top 1% but was not one of the GoodReads 21; I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad encounter with an author, and very few with other readers. But I can’t contribute to a site that treats its users so disrespectfully, especially considering the vast amounts of unpaid labor so many put into the site as librarians.

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  21. Jenny
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 14:31:53

    LitLush sounds promising. I was pretty excited about BookLikes initially, but I’ve had two of my blog posts go missing already. They weren’t anything that could be considered offensive, just photo posts. I have an email in to their support, so hopefully I get an answer back about it. I’m starting to wonder if I should just check out wordpress and go from there.

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  22. Megaera
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 14:40:38

    As an avid reader, I’ve never felt the need for anything like Goodreads. As a relatively recently published author, I joined because I felt like I should, and joined some groups in my writing genres in Goodreads as well. I was immediately attacked for being too much of a promoter for a post that started, “because I write ___, this is what I’m interested in,” then went on talking about other books that I liked without ever mentioning my own books by name or mentioning the fact that I write again. I’m not saying I didn’t do anything wrong by Goodreads standards (whatever they are), but I’m also saying that the way I was sat upon for my post did not make me in the least interested in learning how to do things right, which I could have been otherwise. Or the absolute least bit interested in interacting with those people in any way, shape, or form.

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  23. Liz Mc2
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 15:43:36

    I think any site whose business model is monetizing user content/using it to sell things is eventually going to crack down on user behavior that is perceived as not contributing to that goal. So I’m not surprised that Goodreads did this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if BookLikes did something similar (though I’m not convinced by a post on STGRB that they are doing so yet).

    I am kind of surprised that a site claiming to have 20 million users–though if I’m in the top 1%, a lot of those users must be making an account and never going back–and hoping it’s poised for giant growth is so very amateurish at customer and public relations. Others have commented on the problems with how this was implemented and the lack of response to user questions/concerns from GR. (As a policy wonk at work, I think it is a great example of What Not to Do). But I also think it was probably sparked by overblown media reports of the “bully problem” at GR, and GR never seemed to be out in front of or actively countering all the shoddy reporting.

    I agree that private, reader-controlled spaces are the only place where readers can be guaranteed freedom to say whatever they like–and freedom from authors and other readers who think they are doing bookish social media wrong. But the problem with private spaces as a place to report on author behavior is that those who are not in the private loops don’t get to hear about it. I never had a “badly behaved author” shelf on GR and never got into any battles there–I never even saw them unless I heard about them elsewhere–but I think it’s legitimate for readers to make buying decisions based on things like the way an author interacts with readers on social media. Maybe I don’t want an author to send fans to attack me for my 1* review, or to come by him/herself to “correct” or criticize my interpretation. GR was a place you could find out about that, even long after the incident was over. Even if you weren’t “in the know” or didn’t follow the “right” people on Twitter or whatever. That may not have value to Goodreads/Amazon, but it does have value for many readers.

    Private groups can’t replace that. And as Willaful says, they aren’t a good way to find new friends, either.

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  24. Richard Derus
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 15:52:35

    @tina @willaful yes, yes, yes. Also a top-1% reviewer, not directly affected by shelving issues, and not able to add value to the site because, even if it wasn’t me this time, you can bet it will be me another time.

    @jane very interested in LitLush. I’ve been on LibraryThing for over 7 years, and I’m accustomed to its culture of socializing, but it’s very high-effort and not anything at all as serendipity-friendly as Goodreads.

    And I regret that having to look over my shoulder makes me unwilling to keep adding books (except protest titles about censorship) since so much wonderful stuff happened to me as a result of being on Goodreads.

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  25. Nikki
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 15:59:19

    I love GR. I have over 4,000 books on there and have recently became a Moderator in the Horror Aficionado group. The horror authors who visit and chat with us respect our opinions and are nice to communicate with. I’m sure it’s not the same for everyone as I know my reviews contain lots of sarcasm and bite.
    I think it’s different when we as the reader knock an actual person. I see some “this author should commit suicide” posts and that’s going too far. No matter where you go there will always be someone who misbehaves and GR is trying. They should have given warning before deleting stuff, but this is their site. You wouldn’t want someone coming into your house disrespecting your stuff, why would GR, a home to many readers, be any different? Everyone is all “me, my, mine,” that we don’t even try to see things from a different perspective. Just saying.

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  26. Willaful
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:09:53

    @Nikki: Any such posts could be flagged and dealt with under the previous policy. They were already forbidden.

    Your comment is interesting, because that’s kind of how we felt as users. I mean, we maintained the database without pay, fixed errors, moderated groups, provided content. To us, it felt like our house as well. Because we painted the walls and paid the plumbing bill.

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  27. Ruth
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:17:25

    I’m not a reviewer affected by GRs deletions and I’ve only heard of bad behavior second hand. It seems that the GR team handled the change/clarification policy poorly, but i don’t have an issue with the policy per se. I’ve been spammed by a few authors, but I can ignore the spam. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything personal about an author in a review, since my interest is only in the books not in the people (other than what they like reading). If another GR member started victimizing me I would be more likely to report them to GR as a result of what has happened, and if nothing happened I’d move my reviews elsewhere, but I’ve no intention of moving now. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks.

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  28. Paula Klug
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:17:56

    I did not read all of the comments – but I would like to suggest FictFact. They are small right now but could be a good place to track your books. They offer some reviews now but if they get enough members I could see how this would grow for them.

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  29. Gayle63
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:26:11

    @Jane:
    To me, examples of trashing would be reading a m/m book and saying “Eww! Men having sex is disgusting!” because they didn’t realize what kind of book it was when they bought it. Or slamming a book because of a personal preference – for instance, let’s say somebody didn’t like anal in a m/f, so they would give a one-star review because of that. Look, anybody can write anything they like. It is what it is. But I do lose patience. And I did mention, in my original statement, that there are many suspect five-star reviews as well, likely from friends and family. I don’t think there’s any solution to the situation, other than to accept it or move on, I suppose.

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  30. carmen webster buxton
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:29:18

    When I was in library school, one of my teachers said that librarians tend to self select by personality type. The introverts go into technical services (cataloging, acquisitions, etc.) and the extroverts go into reference. To me, LibraryThing is a lot like technical services. The focus seemed to be on building a personal catalog of the books you own. That’s a fine goal, but it’s not much help in terms of “what would I like to read.” GoodReads was always better for that, I thought. I have not had a problem there, but I have heard the stories.

    Online is so anonymous that it’s difficult to create a site that allows for interaction without letting trolls and bullies run amok. Real people have to do the policing, not some kind of automated program.

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  31. Nikki
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:35:25

    @Willaful: True. It was under the previous policy, but I’m thinking it got out of hand and instead of being reported and deleted, there continued to be ongoing arguments (harassment) and whatnot and GR had to reiterate their policy. I was a librarian first and I have added and fixed A LOT of GR stuff, but that what the deal when I joined.
    However, I can see the flip side of it also. You worked hard, built up a database, accumulated friends and now the place is being re-painted after all your hard work and you liked the original color. Shelves are deleted, warning are given and authors seem to be making things harder. (Damn, them for wanting equality and a voice!)
    A community as large as this one with so many varying opinions and ideas will be back on top of things again as long as it has real caring people like you and me to support it. I’ve made great friends on there and a few bumps in the road won’t deter me from my love of books and their recommendations :)

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  32. Jane
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:47:34

    I’m perplexed by the statements which seem to imply that without the deletion of reviews and comments authors don’t have a voice at goodreads. Authors have a larger platform than any individual reader. They have the ability to create blog posts and delete comments from those blog posts.

    To many readers their profile at goodreads was their space. Authors would be defended to the hilt if a reader came over to the authors’ space and started telling them everything they were doing wrong.

    This idea that authors are without agency on good reads is befuddling. Clearly based on GR’s own actions the author has the greatest voice.

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  33. sara
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:47:55

    I think GoodReads did what it had to do because it had problems with some members going too far in their vendetta against authors. I’ve seen one such person go after this author one starring all his books & trash talking him because he dared to make a comment about whether 5 star reviews were legitimate. It was the most ugly mean girl display I’ve ever seen on a site as they attacked him using the info from his GR blog where he discussed his depression and past history of sexual abuse.

    I found that display so disturbing that hearing that GR wants to stop some of this bad behavior doesn’t concern me in the least. I have over 500 reviews on the site & plan to stay on GR. I’ve always ignored those author behaving badly shelves myself as most of it is because of some petty squabble going on between author & reviewer.

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  34. Debbie
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 16:58:04

    @Paula Klug — Fictfact only tracks books that are in a series (and only a single edition at that). I’ve always used them happily for that purpose in conjunction with other sites. Not knocking them at all, I love them for keeping track of my series reading — but they are useless (unless you only read book series) as book catalog, for book reviews, or any social interaction.

    As to goodreads and all the big blowup — seriously, when discussing, no matter which side you believe — please everyone keep in mind that the TOS always allowed goodreads staff to delete bullying/threatening/hate-speech/etc. content anywhere, any feature on the site.

    The new policy that was announced is that they will now delete any content about an author. Period.

    That’s all that was announced in the one discussion thread of one publicly-viewable but only subscribers-notified forum.

    I’ve not personally made any decisions other than backing up my content on lots of other sites (The Reading Room looks closest to goodreads for me; libib offers a good very customizable book catalog but just a book catalog, with booklikes making it easy to lure you over but rather facebook-y in terms of wading through feed posts and timelines versus seeing books and reviews), basically if they have an option to easily import my CSV file, I will try them. I assume in months to come more will crop up or the existing frontrunners will beef up their services to compete.

    I have no idea what’s going on over at goodreads. Because I don’t know, I’m making sure content is safe elsewhere just in case. I do know the policy has not been announced sitewide nor have staff responded to questions. And I do know that “about author” was in policy but in the staff deletion activities it has all been “negative about author” — particularly if a custom shelf name contained any book by one of the banned-from-goodreads authors.

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  35. batgrl
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 17:48:24

    The weirdest thing for me (well, one of them) in this is the fact that GR apparently feels this new policy is important enough to delete shelves and reviews without prior notification to those users – but at the same time has refused to give all GR users a head’s up that there’s a new policy. Even people who LIKE this new policy should be asking why the staff won’t let everyone know about it – because how are they supposed to follow the policy if they’ve never heard about it?

    Notification is one thing that’s been asked for repeatedly in that thread, and that GR staff stopped responding (about anything) Sept 23 – well, that makes no sense at all. Staff will have a harder time enforcing policy that no one knows about.

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  36. batgrl
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 17:53:09

    Oops forgot to ask – thanks for the other options Jane, I’d been waiting all week to find out what options you’d find! I’m trying Booklikes atm, but have to stick with GR until I can find an alternative that has both backup for my data in csv file (or any other format) and that has an android app. I’ll probably end up trying more than one of these other options, just out of curiosity.

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  37. Jilrene
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 18:16:40

    Wow, there is a lot going on in this thread. Thanks, @Jane for the information on options to Goodreads. I’m staying for now, mostly because I love the M/M group. Being a part of that group and participating in the various activities gave me so many new authors to try. I also really depend on my small group of GR friends (less than 50) for book recommendations.

    I haven’t seen any of the flame wars where the reviewer attacked an author first. I have seen a couple (truly only 2 or 3) where the author attacked because the reviewer didn’t like their book. Either way is bad form and unnecessary.

    @gayle63 I have to admit I don’t like writing reviews. It feels like work. However, I do want to remember if I liked a book or not, so I will rate books that I’ve read. I’ve no problem rating a book 1 star or 5 stars. It’s how I feel. Also, as to the verifying a purchase before a review is posted. That is not practical. One – many of the early reviews are from people who have ARCs and are on the publisher’s list of reviewers. Two – many of my books I won in contests or blog giveaways. There is no receipt because the author just sent me a copy of the ebook through email. Three – my library is one of my favorite sources for books – hard copy, ebooks, and audio books. (on a side note, my library rocks – they have many m/m titles available)

    I’ve said my piece. Thanks for listening. ;-)

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  38. anon
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 19:00:35

    @sara:

    Sara, that author of whom you speak was just as guilty of bad behavior as other badly behaved authors on Goodreads. He did his share of viciously going after reviewers who’d done nothing except negatively review his work. He couldn’t handle that and lashed out at them, then used his personal history to justify his behavior. A lot of his comments were very personal and cruel.

    Behavior like that is a huge part of the reason Goodreads has fallen apart and we’re all left scrambling for some place to congregate.

    Two sides to every story. There’s definitely another side to the one you just told.

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  39. Andrea K
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 19:26:01

    Leaving or staying, this is definitely a heads-up to Goodreads users (and users of other sites) to back up their content. Once a month/quarter/year export your reviews. Any content which is on a site which you don’t control can be mucked about with.

    I checked out BookLikes, but it doesn’t quite do what I want. I do enjoy LibraryThing for a particular discussion group, but Goodreads remains my preferred interface for maintaining an index of what I’ve read. I will just know not to trust it not to muck with my content.

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  40. azteclady
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 20:15:57

    Andrea K:

    Any content which is on a site which you don’t control can be mucked about with.

    This.

    I believe I do have a GoodReads account, but I have never posted anything there, so I can well believe that there are many, many more members like me, while there are very few members who have built the majority of the content.

    If–as it seems–it’s a number of those few who are being directly affected by the mass and unannounced deletion of shelves and reviews, based on obscure and unexplained reasoning by GoodReads’ staff, then it seems to make sense that GoodReads will feel the loss should those few readers shut down their accounts and delete their content.

    Wikipedia–that impeccable source of information–tells us that GoodReads was originally meant “to help people find and share books they love… [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.” Call me crazy, but the way I parse that, GoodReads was indeed meant to be primarily a READER community. And if so, whether or not authors had equal space should have been moot–unless they participated as readers. However, as Jane pointed out, it seems from early on authors were giving extra privileges and wider platforms.

    Sadly, the end result is that, regardless of how much work readers have put into the content that makes up GoodReads humongous database, GoodReads now belongs to a corporation whose only raison d’être is to make money. Right or wrong, they believe that putting the interests of authors before the interest of readers, they will further that goal. Personally, I think if the minority of readers that creates the majority of content do leave, GoodReads and Amazon will learn the error of their ways, a little too late.

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  41. azteclady
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 20:22:34

    (Apologies about the double comment)

    Any thoughts on this piece by Mercy Pilkinton?

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  42. Charming Euphemism
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 20:50:02

    I am really enjoying Booklikes, though the import is very slow, due to all the new users. The owners are planning to add private messaging and groups, which I am glad about.

    I don’t question Goodread’s right to set whatever terms it wants. It now belongs to Amazon, and it isn’t surprising that it is adopting Amazon’s policies. I expect rating without reviewing will be forbidden next, and profanity soon after that. This doesn’t appeal to me, even without wondering if my shelves or reviews will go missing. I have never had a bad interaction with an author. I don’t have ABB shelves. But I did look at pages for books before reviewing a new author to see if there were any red flags there (like a bunch of people shelving the author as “argues with reviewers” or whatever), so I was making use of the ABB shelves of others. And besides, as Richard said, it’ll probably be me next time.

    I have groups I love at GR too, including one I moderate. So I plan to stay at GR, at least for now. I don’t see myself providing much content or librarian duties from now on, though. It irks me to be packaged as a product rather than considered to be part of the site.

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  43. Charming Euphemism
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 20:51:28

    @Linda:

    Please provide screen shots of the bullying on the feedback page. I have at least skimmed all of the posts there, and I haven’t seen it.

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  44. Charming Euphemism
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 20:55:33

    @gayle63:

    Gayle, I think perhaps that you don’t realize that GR allows people to star-rate books based on their level of enthusiasm for the book. There is nothing out of line about either 1-star or 5-star ratings before a book is released. Big releases have pages of excited GIF-laden 5-star squees by people anticipating the release.

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  45. LVLMLeah
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 22:18:57

    I’ve mainly used GR to keep track of my books, post reviews, read reviews and find new books. I didn’t really get into the social aspect of it. My policy is also to never respond to anyone who wants to argue with me about what I’ve said in a review or to complaints from authors. I just ignore them and so far it’s ended there.

    However, getting my books organized, posting reviews, doing librarian work took time to put together and the fact that it can be messed with arbitrarily or even deleted, bothers me. I don’t trust any site, including even Blogger, where I always post a copy of my reviews. But I feel I can be more free there than anywhere in what I post.

    I’m keeping my GR only because I mostly read books that hardly anyone reads— there aren’t many reviews available—so I will leave them there for others. But I think I will only link a review to my blog from now on or not even that.

    I’m still on the fence with Booklikes. Like others, I have a blog so the blogging aspect is not that interesting to me. But I’m still figuring it all out.

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  46. azteclady
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 01:55:16

    Ummm… I believe one of my comments ended up in moderation. I’d appreciate if you guys could fish it out, as it were.

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  47. barklesswagmore
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 12:12:33

    Have you seen this yet Jane? So far Booklikes has been very responsive and weren’t aware of the situation surrounding the STGRB website. I loved Goodreads but have moved everything over to Booklikes which I’m enjoying so far even though it’s very different.

    http://greatimaginationskara.booklikes.com/post/467569/post

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  48. Loosheesh
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 12:45:39

    Booklikes reiterates their Community Guidelines and makes an official statement:

    http://blog.booklikes.com/post/494677/booklikes-community-guidelines-supplements-official-statement

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  49. barklesswagmore
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 12:49:42

    It looks like Booklikes isn’t going to screw around with STGRB and their nonsense and the site owner, Dawid, is very active. I realize the site is new and small but he actively responds to user concerns and even reads and responds to many of our blogs. It is such a relief after being ignored by the admins over at GR.

    http://litchick.booklikes.com/post/498623/mess-with-the-booklikes-you-get-the-dawid

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  50. Liana Mir
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 15:13:36

    There was a lot of abuse on both sides—from reviewers and authors, but this is the one thing I’ll say about a lot of this all-about-the-readers emphasis: it isn’t and never has been.

    It’s about the books.

    Authors are readers, readers turn writers, it happens all the time. I think the TOS implementation should have been better handled, though if you have all email alerts turned off, I wonder how you would have gotten an alert anyway, but the point of the TOS is correct: this isn’t about the readers OR the authors. It’s about, to quote azteclady: “to help people find and share books they love… [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.”

    Sharing books you love and improving reading and learning—not author/reviewer interactions.

    I say this as an avid reader and fangirl who also writes fanfic and original fiction but has never done more on Goodreads than librarian a couple books and read a TON of reviews. I don’t go there to find out about readers. I go there to find out about books. And for me personally, the more spoilers the better.

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  51. P. Kirby
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 17:38:22

    Sigh. I have an author account at Goodreads, but I use it as if it was a reader account, tracking everything I read, writing reviews (including negative reviews), and rating books. I peruse the friend/follow updates in my email for interesting reviews, and will sometimes comment, but that’s my extent of social interaction on the site.

    I like Goodreads’ format and am not very enthusiastic about any of the alternatives. But I’m also very disappointed in Goodreads’ caving to those who want to control the conversation about books.

    I guess I’ll give Booklikes a try. The Tumblr-style interface has some appeal. Sigh-grumble.

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  52. Michelle Louring
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 03:26:07

    I have actually been looking for a replacement for Goodreads for a long time. Never really got that into using their platform and then I started reading all the harassment stories and it just didn’t seem worth my time.
    Hopefully, someone else will rise to the challenge if people decides Goodreads aren’t good enough anymore!

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  53. Jenny
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 06:47:41

    Just as a side note to my previous comment regarding missing posts on BookLikes, their support was extremely helpful and got back to me right away. They were even able to recover one of the missing posts for me.

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  54. Marisa
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 08:46:07

    Very informative post. Thanks! I am still undecided with which book site to join. I joined GR in 2008 personally and then set up a separate one this year for my blog. I haven’t had any trouble but feel for those who were treated unfairly. I think I will hang on to the GR account but more as a cataloging tool. I use the app all the time on my phone when at the library or bookstore to remember all the TBR books on my list. I don’t use it for socializing or for making friends but more as a resource tool.

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  55. Isobel Carr
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 09:34:32

    Sadly, I can’t access BookLikes from work, which means I can’t update it on my lunch break. So it’s a no go for me.

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  56. Bree
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 10:19:12

    After 3 years as an active librarian, a few groups and nearly 2,000 books entered on my shelves, I put a pause on my GR involvement at the Amazon purchase. The problem wasn’t Amazon (I’m a Prime member with multiple Subscribe & Save subs), but my labor of love to build a book community didn’t extend to working for Amazon for free. And the tone of the top reviews had shifted to be quite meme-heavy, so I found them entertaining, but less helpful than before. So I switched to putting my cataloging skills to work cleaning up my own Calibre setup, instead, and kept my eye on some of the competitors.

    Lo these many months and debacles later, I’m glad I made that choice. I will continue to move my GR data over to Calibre in spurts. I am undecided whether I will maintain a wishlist at GR or not – it’s easier to have it all in one place as I borrow from the library and buy from several ebookstores, but I could probably do that with a separate Calibre library + DropBox.

    I have left my reviews with a parent’s perspective of children’s books up, as they have gotten comments from appreciative parents. But everything else is being deleted as I add it to Calibre.

    I am not replacing it with anything else. I don’t think any site currently existing, or likely to be built, will be worth the effort to get started again. Frankly, I’m tired of my life being use to sell stuff. I’d think it was just me getting old, but I refused to wear clothing with brands all over it back in the day, so I think it’s just me.

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  57. Rachel
    Oct 02, 2013 @ 14:26:12

    In the end, for me (and probably for others) it will depend on who is at each of these sites. All my reading friends use Goodreads, and I’ll go wherever they go, but I’m not likely to find what I’m looking for in a book site if the people whose opinions I trust aren’t there. It’s really like social media in that sense – when I was looking for a replacement for Google Reader, what mattered was how good it was and how it works. But for a replacement for Goodreads, what matters is who else is using it.

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  58. Jae_Lee
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 09:22:59

    Just a heads-up, Book Glutton is now defunct and the link to The Reading Room goes to a digital services site . This is the correct address http://www.thereadingroom.com/

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  59. Jane
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 20:05:42

    @Jae_Lee: Thanks. Fixed the link.

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  60. Revisions, Goodreads, and Book Marketing for Writers - Social Media Just for Writers
    Oct 04, 2013 @ 01:17:10

    […] Finding a replacement for Goodreads by Jane • Publishing News: After Goodreads deleted content – both reviews and shelves – of readers as well as indicated that they would continue to do so in the future (only this time they’ll provide notice), many readers feel like Goodreads is not a safe place for them. Ironically, many many authors hate Goodreads feeling that the place is unsafe for them as well. Undoubtedly sites like Stop the Goodreads Bullies which has defamed and doxxed reviewers allowing them to be called at their place of business and at home bu approvingly cited by so many purported reputable journalism sources, ratchet up the tension making both sides targets. Nonetheless, the question is where can readers go to discuss books they don’t like as well as the ones they do without interference from authors complaining about mistreatment? […]

  61. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity doesn’t think it’s necessary to catch up on all of our missed rain in one night
    Oct 04, 2013 @ 19:17:13

    […] Dear Author on how personal boycotts are different from censorship. Some options if you’re looking for a replacement for Goodreads. […]

  62. John
    Oct 06, 2013 @ 18:11:23

    I think the “enforcement” that Goodreads is doing is probably long overdue. Had they been on top of things all along it wouldn’t have been a big deal now. I’ve seen some of the names of the shelves they have deleted and they were offensive and should have been deleted; I’m not saying that’s the case for all but you know what they about a few bad apples. I still think Goodreads is the best site for book lovers and have no plans on leaving

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  63. Ceridwen
    Oct 16, 2013 @ 14:55:09

    I know the narrative so far in the media has largely been about how the TOS shift was necessary to shut down author bullying, but this narrative is wrong. Threats have always been against terms of service, for one. Because there were so few people affected by the deletions – 21 people out of 20 million users – I actually tried to track down all of them and ask them about the content of their shelves and reviews. I did locate 13. My findings can be found here:

    http://soapboxing.net/2013/10/by-the-numbers-an-analysis-of-the-reviews-deleted-in-the-goodreads-policy-change.html

    Short version: many of these reviews were not reviews at all, but unrated and without text in their review fields. Goodreads instead deleted forums where users were discussing (sometimes) author behavior, but sometimes were just discussing. The terms of service do not make it clear that Goodreads will (and has) take action against whole conversations, not just individual statements or reviews.

    Many of these reviews were not about “author behavior”, with a measurable amount being about how the book was pulled-to-publish fanfiction (and therefore unethical, in the reviewer’s eyes), or that the book had been pulled for plagiarism (which is about the content). Some noted the political stance of the author – Theodore Beale being a good example, if you caught his recent SFWA mltdown – and how they were not reading the book because of that. I’m leery of calling a political stance a stand about “author behavior” except in the most reductive way possible.

    Anyway, interesting article. I’ve followed Dear Author quietly for some time. Now that many of us (I’m a top user on Goodreads, and have been for years) are being threatened with account deletions for trying to get some kind of clarification on the TOS, I’m looking for a new home.

    Thanks.

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  64. Rachel
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 10:59:20

    Hiya, Jane. A friend posted this on Booklikes so I thought I would bring it to Dear Author’s attention. The site is Leafmarks.com, and it seems like it has real potential to replace GR.

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  65. Steven Monrad
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 19:37:17

    LitLush trademark is owned by Ameriie Rogers, a Korean American singer

    ReplyReply

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