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.
First, the right replacement for Goodreads will largely depend on the user.
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.
If you are using Goodreads to interact with other readers then your primary choices are LibraryThing, BookLikes, and Reading Room.
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.
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.
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.