Goodreads: What’s the point?

Social networking can be both a blessing and a curse for the writer.  A blessing because it gives us an avenue to connect with both writers and readers, but a curse because it can be a massive timesink.  So when a new social networking site starts up, I usually avoid it.  I can find plenty of ways to proscrastinate as it is, thanks very much.  Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest – I haven’t tried them (although I confess I’m eyeing Pinterest with interest).   So when I first found Goodreads, I was hesitant to jump in.  But, oh boy, am I glad I did.

I admit it: I’m a Goodreads junkie.  As soon as I start a new book, I update Goodreads.  When I finish the book, I rate it.  I’m constantly adding to my “to read” list and right now I have more books listed there than I could read in 18 months.  So what are the benefits of Goodreads?

For the reader:

  1.  A place to interact with writers I enjoy.  I can follow them, see what they’re reading, what they’ve liked and not liked.
  2. A place to store my ever-expanding “to read” list.  No longer is my desk covered with post-it notes bearing scribbled reminders about books I thought looked interesting.  Now it’s all in Goodreads.
  3. I can see what my friends are reading.  A lot of the books on my “to read” list are there because a friend added them to their list.
  4. I can show my friends what I think of each book I read.  My personal policy is that I don’t rate any book as less than three stars.  If I disliked it to that extent, I leave it unstarred.  I also have a “not finished” shelf for the books I couldn’t bear to persist with.
  5. I can check out reviews and ratings of books I’m considering reading before I purchase.   On the odd occasion that I’ve ignored low ratings and scathing reviews, I’ve left the book unfinished.  Unfortunately I have gotten caught a couple of times with books that had high ratings and glowing reviews but which turned out to be awful.
  6. I can connect with other readers via various reading groups.

But what about the benefits of Goodreads for the writer?

I got as far as:

  1. A place to interact with readers and potential readers.
  2. A place where readers can easily write reviews and rate books.
  3. A place to generate buzz by providing giveaways and writing blogs.  Your Goodreads account can be synced with your blog for easy updating (although, I confess it bores me seeing the same blog post everywhere I follow a writer).
  4. A place to connect with like-minded writers via various reading groups.

What am I missing here?  How else does Goodreads benefit writers?  Or is it more about the reader?  Should writers stay out of the way?


7 responses on “Goodreads: What’s the point?

  1. Colette

    I can’t help thinking that anything we do as writers that helps us interact with other readers and writers has to be a good thing. I keep my eyes out for Cinda Chima’s books, in part, by seeing what she’s reading. Being reminded that she’s out there, reading and writing, reminds me to keep an eye for her books as well. I’m not as consistent on the site as I’d like, but I think it’s a good place. Not sure it’s worth the time to be involved on too many of the forums. The jury is still out on that one.

  2. Marcia B

    I agree with Eileen. Goodreads has its own value in ratings and Kindle is even more tied to Amazon and its ratings. Amazon has had problems with the credibility of ratings and they are higher than Goodreads. Leave Kindle out of it so the true readers speak.

  3. Don Shull

    Im a reader, not a writer. I had checked reviews on Goodreads for sometime and not found them helpful. Recently I have read some that were more interesting, so I signed up. After a long time going through the titles I’d read and rating them, I gave up. I’d been wanting to write about early Wodehouse titles and never got to a place where that was possible.
    Sorry–I just realized I don’t belong here.

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