So, I’ve been a member of Goodreads for years now. It’s a lovely place to keep track of the books I want to read, those I’ve read, and those I’m currently reading (though I tend to forget to update that part fairly frequently). Its interface is a little basic for my tastes, but in general, it’s pretty functional.

Goodreads bookshelf with cover view.

Plus, I’m a bit of a loyalist, sometimes. If I felt like Xanga had kept their systems/interface current, I’d probably still be blogging over there (well, that and if it still had a substantial community). I like sticking with the companies and products that have served me well. So, I have a desire to stick with Goodreads.

But, as I mentioned, Goodreads’ interface is a bit dated. (Though I did just discover that they have a “Cover” view, and it looks pretty nice.)

Their method for entering books on your various “shelves” has improved, but things are still a bit clunky. And… I’m kind of an interface snob. There’s a credit union here in town that I love, but I don’t use them as my primary bank simply because their online banking website is so frakking hideous.

Enter Shelfari. Amazon’s much prettier version of Goodreads. Not only is their interface pretty gorgeous, the books you add to your “shelves” are linked directly to the Amazon page for each book. Much more streamlined; much more intuitive.

But it’s Amazon. Don’t they pretty much own the world already? Do I really want to invest more of my life in yet another conglomerate corporation?

Not really.

Shelfari’s cover view.

So, why the debate? Well, the main reason I’m a little frustrated with Goodreads is the community. Sure, the friends I have on there are great. Their recommendations and suggestions are always helpful and thoughtful.

But the general community on Goodreads? Some of my favorite books have the most scathingly negative reviews. And hey, you are more than welcome to dislike some of my favorite books. But these reviews are vicious. We’re not talking “this wasn’t my favorite book – I would have liked to see more of blahblahblah and less of blahblah,” we’re talking “THIS IS THE MOST TERRIBLE THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, EXCEPT THE OTHER 400 BOOKS I HAVE REVIEWED ON THIS SITE, WHICH WERE ALSO THE WORST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ.”

And it’s not just a few books here and there, there is a consistent theme of incredibly, and unnecessarily, negative reviews.

I’m just not a fan.

So… What do you think? Stick with the tried and true Goodreads, and deal with the crazies? Or try out the uber pretty Shelfari, and give in to corporate America a little more?

Interested to hear what you guys think!

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7 comments
toiletpaperpeople
toiletpaperpeople

As an author, Shelfari is a disaster (at least so far!). I do have to agree with you regarding the negative reviews on Goodreads. I was fortunate enough to have a random reader from The Netherlands give me a great one. I am sure that is bound to change though!

courtneyflats
courtneyflats

Late in the day to comment I know but you put into words the exact feelings I had when visiting Goodreads.  Vicious.  I know the whole site is not filled with these people but I have only a handful of honest to God flesh and blood know in person friends who use Goodreads and I never joined for the "social" anyway so I won't be missing much by not using it.  I was looking more for a way to organizing my books. I do seem to  get more out of the Shelfari group I regularly visit who can themselves be a bit snarky on occasion and as an Amazon user anyway it is easier at the moment to organize the bulk of my purchases.  I will try Goodreads sporadically to see if I eventually feel it will be useful but I was so appalled at the sheer nastiness displayed by readers. Several relished giving 1 star ratings to books they never read simply because an author had irritated them. I don't believe I'll go there looking for congenial company anytime soon.

Viewtiful_Justin
Viewtiful_Justin

I haven't logged in to Goodreads in ages...but now that I know from these comments that it has a mobile app, I might! I basically quit using Goodreads because I hated the interface, too, although I didn't realize that was really why until I went back to use it again. I just hate how much guesswork is involved in trying to get a book to go where you'd like it to. I found myself sounding like bad sex..."Is it in? How about now? Is it in? Oh...there." I'll try the mobile app before I give up on it...

David
David

I've found that even though it's liked to Amazon, it doesn't handle ISBN-13 codes very well. I have to enter the book on Goodreads, scrape the ISBN-10 code, and then enter that on Shelfari. Goodreads also seems to have a larger number of editions for books than Shelfari generally does. I don't like one more than the other enough to stop using one of them. I do think Shelfari has the edge on the interface, though.

danlang
danlang moderator

@toiletpaperpeople Shelfari definitely leaves a lot to be desired - which is odd, coming from a mega-giant like Amazon. 

I haven't quite figured out how Goodreads has managed to attract such a bitter clientele! I've always thought readers were kindred spirits, and that we could band together to spread beautiful words through the world--or something cheesy like that. But it's a little horrifying when some of the most scathing reviews I've ever read come with a two-star rating. I'm scared to consider what a one-star review might get for a review! 

danlang
danlang

Yeah, I think the interface is a little better now - I used to have a really hard time placing books on particular shelves and whatnot, but it seems a little easier now. It's actually growing on me, especially now that I spotted the 'cover view' option on Goodreads. It looks much nicer!

danlang
danlang

That is really odd - you'd think the ISBNs would be attached by default, especially since you can search Amazon using ISBNs. Goodreads' number of editions is neat, though occasionally frustrating. I sometimes feel like there are too many "versions," when the only difference is a slight alteration to the cover, or whatever. But I suppose it might be relevant for certain books. I also realized after posting this that Shelfari doesn't have a mobile app, and that's kind of a deal breaker for me - I use Goodreads on the go a lot.