Goodreads is an American social cataloging website that allows individuals to search its database of books, annotations, quotes, and reviews. Users can sign up and register books to generate library catalogs and reading lists. They can also create their own groups of book suggestions, surveys, polls, blogs, and discussions. The website's offices are located in San Francisco.[1] The company is owned by the online retailer Amazon.[2]

Type of site
Available inEnglish
Created byOtis Chandler
Elizabeth Khuri
LaunchedDecember 2006 (2006-12)
Current statusActive

Goodreads was founded in December 2006 and launched in January 2007 by Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.[3][4][5] In December 2007, the site had 650,000 members[6] and 10,000,000 books had been added.[7] By July 2012, the site reported 10 million members, 20 million monthly visits, and thirty employees.[8] On March 28, 2013, Amazon announced its acquisition of Goodreads,[9] and by July 23, 2013, Goodreads announced their user base had grown to 20 million members.[10]

By July 2019, the site had 90 million members.[11]



Otis Chandler

Goodreads founders Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler first met while studying at Stanford (Engineering and English respectively). After university Chandler initially worked as a programmer in on-line businesses,[12] including dating sites,[13] and Khuri Chandler as a journalist.[14]

Foundation and mission

Goodreads was founded in 2006. The idea came about when Otis Chandler was browsing through his friend's bookshelf. He wanted to integrate this scanning experience and to create a space where people could write reviews regarding the books that they read.[15]

Goodreads' stated mission is "to help people find and share books they love ... [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world."[5] Goodreads addressed what publishers call the "discoverability problem" by guiding consumers in the digital age to find books they might want to read.[16]

Early years

During its first year of business, the company was run without any formal funding. In December 2007, the site received funding estimated at $750,000 from angel investors.[7] This funding lasted Goodreads until 2009, when Goodreads received two million dollars from True Ventures.[17]

In October 2010, the company opened its application programming interface, which enabled developers to access its ratings and titles.[18]

In 2011, Goodreads acquired Discovereads, a book recommendation engine that employs "machine learning algorithms to analyze which books people might like, based on books they've liked in the past and books that people with similar tastes have liked."[4][19] After a user has rated 20 books on its five-star scale, the site will begin making recommendations. Otis Chandler believed this rating system would be superior to Amazon's, as Amazon's includes books a user has browsed or purchased as gifts when determining its recommendations.[4][19] Later that year, Goodreads introduced an algorithm to suggest books to registered users and had over five million members.[20] The New Yorker's Macy Halford noted that the algorithm was not perfect, as the number of books needed to create a perfect recommendation system is so large that "by the time I'd got halfway there, my reading preferences would have changed and I'd have to start over again."[21]

As of 2012, membership was required to use but free.[22] In October 2012, Goodreads announced it had grown to 11 million members with 395 million books cataloged and over 20,000 book clubs created by its users.[23] A month later, in November 2012, Goodreads had surpassed 12 million members, with the member base having doubled in one year.[24]

2013 acquisition by Amazon

In March 2013, Amazon made an agreement to acquire Goodreads in the second quarter of 2013 for an undisclosed sum.[25][26][27] Amazon had previously purchased the competitor Shelfari in 2008,[28] with the Goodreads purchase "stunning" the book industry. The Authors Guild called it a "truly devastating act of vertical integration" and that Amazon's "control of online bookselling approaches the insurmountable." There were mixed reactions from Goodreads users, at the time totaling 16 million members.[29] Goodreads founder Otis Chandler said that "his management team would remain in place to guard the reviewing process" with the acquisition, with The New York Times noting that Goodreads at the time had a more reputable reviewing system than Amazon's.[30]

Noting that some authors had been "too aggressive in their self-promotion" (as Goodreads admitted in an email) and that some readers had responded with aggression,[31] in September 2013, Goodreads announced it would delete, without warning, reviews that threatened authors or mentioned authors' behavior.[32] As of April 2020, the site's guidelines still state that "reviews that are predominantly about an author's behavior and not about the book will be deleted."[33]


In January 2016, Amazon announced that it would shut down Shelfari in favor of Goodreads, effective March 16, 2016. Users were offered the ability to export data and migrate accounts.[34] In April 2016, Goodreads announced that over 50 million user reviews had been posted to the website.[35]


Book discovery

On the Goodreads website, users can add books to their personal bookshelves, rate and review books, see what their friends and authors are reading, participate in discussion boards and groups on a variety of topics, and get suggestions for future reading choices based on their reviews of previously read books.[36] Once users have added friends to their profile, they will see their friends' shelves and reviews and can comment on friends' pages. Goodreads features a rating system of one to five stars, with the option of accompanying the rating with a written review. The site provides default bookshelves—read, currently-reading, to-read—and the opportunity to create customized shelves to categorize a user's books.[37]

Content access

Goodreads users can read or listen to a preview of a book on the website using Kindle Cloud Reader and Audible.[38] Goodreads also offers quizzes and trivia, quotations, book lists, and free giveaways. Members can receive the regular newsletter featuring new books, suggestions, author interviews, and poetry. If a user has written a work, the work can be linked on the author's profile page, which also includes an author's blog.[39] Goodreads organizes offline opportunities as well, such as in-person book exchanges and "literary pub crawls".[40]

User interaction

The website facilitates reader interactions with authors through the interviews, giveaways, authors' blogs, and profile information. There is also a special section for authors with suggestions for promoting their works on, aimed at helping them reach their target audience.[41] By 2011, "seventeen thousand authors, including James Patterson and Margaret Atwood" used Goodreads to advertise.[4]

Users can add each other as "Friends", enabling easy sharing of reviews, posts, book recommendations, and messages.

Additionally, Goodreads has a presence on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.[42][43][44] Linking a Goodreads account with a social networking account like Facebook enables the ability to import contacts from the social networking account to Goodreads, expanding one's Goodreads "Friends" list. There are settings available, as well, to allow Goodreads to post straight to a social networking account, which informs, e.g., Facebook friends, what one is reading or how one rated a book.[45]

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (version 2) and Kindle Voyage feature integration with Goodreads' social network via a user interface button.[46]

Reading challenge

Users can set themselves an annual reading challenge which constitutes a target number of books to be read in each year. A tracker is added to the users homepage which provides a progress bar given as the percentage of the target. The tracker also informs the user whether they are "on track to complete" their reading challenge and states the number of books "behind-" or "ahead- of schedule" they are. In 2018, over 4 million users set themselves a reading challenge.[47]

Catalog data

Book catalog data was seeded with large imports from various closed and open data sources, including individual publishers, Ingram,[48] Amazon (before 2012 and after 2013),[49][50] WorldCat and the Library of Congress.[51]

Goodreads librarians improve book information on the website, including editing book and author information and adding cover images. Goodreads members can apply to become volunteer librarians after they have 50 books on their profile.[52] Goodreads librarians coordinate on the Goodreads Librarian Group.[53]

User data becomes proprietary to Goodreads[54] though available via an application programming interface, or API,[55] unlike similar projects like The Open Library which publish the catalog and user edits as open data. In December 2020, Goodreads deactivated API keys more than 30 days old and said it would no longer be issuing new API keys.[56][57][58]

Amazon requirements controversy

In January 2012, Goodreads switched from using Amazon's public Product Advertising API for book metadata (such as title, author, and number of pages) to book wholesaler Ingram. Goodreads felt Amazon's requirements for using its API were too restrictive, and the combination of Ingram, the Library of Congress, and other sources would be more flexible. Some users worried that their reading records would be lost, but Goodreads had a number of plans in place to ease the transition and ensure that no data was lost, even for titles that might be in danger of deletion because they were available only through Amazon, such as Kindle editions and self-published works on Amazon.[59] In May 2013, as a result of Goodreads' acquisition by Amazon, Goodreads began using Amazon's data again.[60]

Competition and review fairness

In 2012, after a reviewer wrote a poor review of a novel, the novel's author and publisher discussed publicly on Twitter how to "knock it off" the front page of the novel's Goodreads page. This sparked a furor about the relationship between authors and reviewers on Goodreads.[61] That same year, Goodreads received criticism from users about the availability and tone of reviews posted on the site,[62] with some users and websites stated that certain reviewers were harassing and encouraging attacks on authors. Goodreads publicly posted its review guidelines in August 2012 to address these issues.[63] Later, new owner Amazon modified its policy to include deletion of any review containing "an ad hominem attack or an off-topic comment".[64] Several news sources reported the announcement, noting Amazon's business reasons for the move:

Where authors were threatening a mass account cancellation to protest the bullying, many of the reader users who commented on the announcement are now threatening the same thing. And while much of this might seem like nothing more than petty playground behavior between children who honestly do not have a clear good guy or bad guy, keep in mind that several e-book retailers incorporate the Goodreads' API into their sales pages, effectively posting book reviews that many in the Goodreads community know to be false, and nothing more than an act of revenge against an author; real-world sales decisions have been made by consumers based on these reviews.

Mercy Pilkington, Good E-Reader News[65]

Regarding the 2013 Amazon acquisition of Goodreads, The New York Times said, "Goodreads was a rival to Amazon as a place for discovering books" and that this deal "consolidates Amazon's power to determine which authors get exposure for their work".[66]

Goodreads Choice Awards


Some feel that Goodreads' dominant position, coupled with limited development by Amazon, has prevented better tools emerging for personalized book recommendations.[67] Goodreads has also fallen under criticism from users who feel that the site is outdated and prone to frequent crashes and bugs, and that the recommendations are poor, frequently suggesting popular books at random rather than anything more personalized.[68] Authors who are aware of the site have noted problematic qualities such as a lack of proper disambiguation for authors with the same name, rough drafts being catalogued to the site by virtue of having an ISBN, and an inability to list the author's preferred name for formerly pseudonymous authors who want to claim their pseudonymous works under their real legal name; Goodreads opts instead to list the pseudonym as the primary author, also displaying the early pseudonymous edition as the prominently displayed edition on Goodreads, even if this is no longer relevant.[69] Transgender authors who previously published under "dead names", according to Goodreads, can contact the website directly to request exceptions.[70] Some authors have criticized Goodreads's stance on functioning like a public library rather than giving authors any control over how their information is displayed, noting that for most authors, Goodreads is the first page people see when they search on a web browser. It has also been criticized that Goodreads allows both users and authors to post quotes attributed to an author without verification of any sort; removal of such quotes is left largely in the hands of volunteer "librarians", as authors have little to no individual control over quotes posted to their own profiles.[71] Having false or invalid quotes removed can be a difficult process; problematically the quotes can be picked up by third-party websites like Pinterest and Instagram in the meantime, spreading invalid quotes attributed to the author even further, as Goodreads quotes bring a high amount of web traffic. Goodreads often refuses to remove quotes with "likes" from an author's profile, even if the quotes are false or invalid.[72] Both authors and readers have noted an increase in political banter, trolling, cancel culture and cyberbullying afflicting the website. Goodreads has tried to address this, implementing rules such as only allowing reviewers to criticize a book itself, not author behaviour or political affiliations. Some users consider this decision to be a form of censorship.[73]

See also

  • aNobii
  • Babelio
  • BookArmy
  • Bookish
  • douban
  • iDreamBooks
  • Library 2.0 the concept behind Goodreads and similar sites
  • LibraryThing
  • Readgeek
  • Shelfari


  1. "Book lovers seething over Amazon acquisition of Goodreads", Inside Bay area, April 4, 2013.
  2. Kaufman, Leslie (March 28, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  3. "Elizabeth Khuri Chandler Tells the Origin Story of Goodreads". Literary Hub. December 3, 2018. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  4. Miller, Claire Cain (March 10, 2011). "Need Advice on What to Read? Ask the Internet". New York Times Bits. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  5. "About Us". Goodreads. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  6. Good reads: book nerds social networking, TechCoastReview, archived from the original on December 19, 2007, retrieved September 17, 2007.
  7. "Goodreads Raises Angel Round To Help You Find That Perfect Book". Tech Crunch. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  8. Lee, Ellen (July 21, 2012). "Goodreads' Otis Chandler reviews growth". SF Gate. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  9. Olanoff, Drew. "Amazon Acquires Social Reading Site Goodreads, Which Gives The Company A Social Advantage Over Apple". SF Gate. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  10. Chandler, Otis (July 23, 2013). "Goodreads Grows to 20 Million Readers". Goodreads.
  11. "Goodreads: number of registered members 2019". Statista. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  12. magazine, STANFORD. "Book Buddies".
  13. "How A Quiet Developer Built Into Book Community Of 2.6+ Million Members - with Otis Chandler".
  14. Greiving, Tim. "Goodreads Co-Founder Builds a Literary Community". USC News.
  15. "About Goodreads". Goodreads. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  16. Kaufman, Leslie (February 12, 2013). " Is Growing as a Popular Book Site". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  17. Kellogg, Carolyn (December 14, 2009). "What Goodreads will do with its new millions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  18. "Goodreads Launches Social Reading API". Read write Web. October 2010. Archived from the original on November 26, 2010.
  19. Hopkins, Curt (March 10, 2011). "Goodreads Buys Recommendation Service Discovereads". ReadWrite.
  20. Frassica, Matt (July 2, 2011). "For ebook devotees, reading is a whole new experience". USA Today. The Courier-Journal (Louisville). Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  21. Halford, Macy (November 2011). "Getting Good at Goodreads". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  22. Zukerman, Erez (March 5, 2012). "Find New Favorite Books With Goodreads". PCWorld. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  23. Fidelman, Mark (October 16, 2012). "These are Top 25 Book Reviewers on Goodreads". Forbes (infographic). Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  24. Greenfield, Jeremy (November 8, 2012), "Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler on the Future of Discoverability and Social Reading", Digital Book World.
  25. " to Acquire Goodreads" (Press release). Corporate IR. Archived from the original on October 4, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2013..
  26. "Exciting News About Goodreads: We're Joining the Amazon Family!", Goodreads.
  27. Kaufman, Leslie (March 28, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  28. Kaufman, Leslie (March 29, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  29. Flood, Allison (April 2, 2013). "Amazon purchase of Goodreads stuns book industry". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  30. Kaufman, Leslie (February 13, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  31. Petri, Alexandra (September 23, 2013). "Is Goodreads' new policy really censorship?". Washington Post. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  32. "Goodreads Announces New Content Policy – Now Deletes Reviews Which Mention Author Behavior". The Digital Reader.
  33. "Review Guidelines". Goodreads. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  34. "Amazon Kills Shelfari". The Reader's Room. January 12, 2016.
  35. "Goodreads Reaches New Milestone: Fifty Million Reviews". The Digital Reader.
  36. "Goodreads". Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  37. "Groups". Goodreads. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  38. Klose, Stephanie (May 7, 2015). "Audiobook Samples Added to Goodreads". Library Journal Reviews. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  39. Strickland, Jonathan (July 14, 2009). "How Goodreads Works". How Stuff Works. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  40. Kellogg, Carolyn (August 14, 2012). "Goodreads reaches 10 million users". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  41. "Author Program". Goodreads. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  42. Ha, Anthony. "Reading Is Alive And Well At Social Reading Site Goodreads, Which Just Hit 10M Members". Tech Crunch. AOL Tech. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  43. "Goodreads". Twitter. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  44. "Goodreads". Pinterest. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  45. "Goodreads". Goodreads. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  46. Amazon's next Kindle Paperwhite outed ahead of its official launch via Amazon's own leak.
  47. "2018 Reading Challenge". Goodreads. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  48. "Goodreads Librarians Group – New Ingram Import". Goodreads. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  49. "Goodreads Librarians Group – Adding New Books: Large Book Data Import (showing 1-50 of 472)". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  50. "Amazon is going away as a data source". At Goodreads, we make it a priority to use book information from the most reliable and open data sources
  51. Patrick (January 9, 2012). "Goodreads Librarians Group discussion – Announcement: Goodreads to Import WorldCat & Library of Congress Data Tonight".
  52. "What is a goodreads librarian?". Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  53. "Goodreads Librarians Group". Goodreads. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  54. "Terms of use". By posting any User Content on the Service, you expressly grant, and you represent and warrant that you have a right to grant, to Goodreads a royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide ....
  55. "Goodreads Librarians Group – Amazon is going away as a data source (showing 1-50 of 1,601)". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  56. "Goodreads plans to retire API access, disables existing API keys". December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  57. "Goodreads shutters all APIs, breaking my open source app". December 10, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  58. "Mek" (13 Dec 2020). "Importing your Goodreads & Accessing them with Open Library's APIs". The Open Library Blog. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  59. Owen, Laura Hazard (January 27, 2012). "As Goodreads Ends Sourcing From Amazon, Users Fear Lost Books". Paid Content: The Economics of Digital Content. Gigaom. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  60. Rivka (May 23, 2013). "The Announcement You've All Been Waiting For". Goodreads Librarians Group forums. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  61. Matthews, Jolie C (July 9, 2016). "Professionals and nonprofessionals on Goodreads: Behavior standards for authors, reviewers, and readers". New Media & Society. 18 (10): 2305–2322 r. doi:10.1177/1461444815582141.
  62. Miller, Laura (October 23, 2013). "How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers". Salon. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  63. Brown, Patrick (August 6, 2012). "Review Guidelines & Updated Author Guidelines". Goodreads. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  64. Erikson, Kara (September 20, 2013). "Important Note Regarding Reviews". Goodreads. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  65. Pilkington, Mercy (September 21, 2013). "Goodreads Modifies User Terms to Prevent Author Bullying, Reviewers Outraged". Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  66. Kaufman, Leslie (March 28, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Goodreads". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  67. "Why Goodreads is bad for books".
  68. Lashbrook, Angela (September 10, 2019). "Almost Everything About Goodreads Is Broken". Medium.
  69. "Goodreads Help".
  70. "Goodreads Help".
  71. "Goodreads Help".
  72. "Goodreads Librarians Group - Issues with Quotes: Editing & Deleting My Quotes Showing 1-50 of 53".
  73. Owen, Laura (September 23, 2013). "Goodreads' growing pains: Attempt to curtail author bullying angers many users".


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.