I just use it as a list of books of I’ve read and am reading, and to see books that my friends are reading or have read.
It’s been funny to me that the search is horrible and seems to be something worse than just regexing a list of book titles. But I eventually find what I’m looking for. It’s sucked as long as I can remember.
The recommendations are also really bad, it has never recommended a book to me that I thought was interesting or I ended up reading. This is despite having over a thousand read and rated books from me. I’ve been waiting for them to be able to search all the books I don’t know and find one that I will like.
I kind of like the site as it is quaint, but functional. It’s like a library in that way.
People complain about goodreads, Netflix, amazon, etc.
Even things like google ads whose business is ultimately showing ads for products you might like to buy, a kind of recommendation algorithm, people constantly complain about irrelevance. And they have billions of dollars on the line for making that better, not to mention a dataset that is second to none about the internet using population.
Maybe good recommendations is actually just super hard and nobody has really solved it well.
Sometimes it's very decent. Most of the time my discover weekly playlist contains 95% of music I find plain bad.
I think it’s more of whatever you call that “programmer anxious subliminal minmaxing” feeling that I get knowing that goodreads has all that info from me, and should be able to automatically help.
I don’t have a shortage of books to read or anything and I have a system that works. But I suspect that there’s great books out there for me that I haven’t discovered yet and would like for technology to help with that.
I mainly find books through serendipitous interactions and recommendations from friends and I read more books found accidentally than when I consciously seek out new books.
It’s a problem with amazon and audible and my library too. They suck at recommending books. I think it’s just because they are happy if I just buy something, where I’m looking for five star books. So our incentives are different.
I’ve spend quite a few saturdays trying to hack something from goodreads data to just do it myself. But I can’t get a good data export.
I think if you just find people with at least 100 similar rating to me and then recommend books that they 5-star that would result in good stuff.
The main downside of amazon buying them is that I used to wish for a breach of all their customer ratings data so I could just do the analysis on the leaked data (after de identifying the customers of course). But amazon has much better security.
By the way, it seems like all the content companies are this way now. Netflix isn’t interested in me finding movies I love. Spotify is maybe the closest but I think they promote lots of stuff.
I’ve been trying to think of a business model that relies on finding awesome matches, but I think there’s more money in finding marginal matches that bring customers back again.
My current money is on getting local AI that I can train to serve me (instead of google, Microsoft, etc).
For example, if you have a 'non-fiction' shelf, goodreads will give you books others have rated high with the same tag at https://www.goodreads.com/recommendations/shelf/non-fiction
It's much more specific and for me works better than the 'because you read book X, you might like book Y' which is often very random.
This is the main point.
It is the same thing that Oracle purchasing MySQL. What once was a promising raising technology is nowadays stagnant. (Interest over time https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=%...)
GoodReads could help to find better books to read. But, Amazon likes the current state where Amazon recommends the books that are good for their business and not the best for the reader.
10 years ago, I would buy anything Amazon recommended on books. Nowadays, I do not use Amazon anymore as it just promotes books that, I guess, have larger profit margins or align better with Amazon strategy. It cannot be trusted as a recommendation engine.
I agree that Amazon is nefarious and destructive, but I think any company in the same position would have bought Goodreads out.
Poor customer experience. I have always bought a small percentage of my eBooks on Apple Books or Google Play Books, just to avoid my whole library being tied to one company.
Since the advertising annoyances in the Kindle app, I have been buying more from other vendors.
Does Amazon has a track record of buying major referral generators? I'd imagine someone like SlickDeals generates higher revenue with affiliate links to higher-ticket non-book items.
Goodreads was classy by comparison and was/is not primarily about deals or referral links. Amazon considers itself to own the book category, period. Books will always hold a special place in their heart as the origination of the company. Amazon, as with all big companies, also considers its brand when it purchases other things. (some of the tech echo chamber may laugh at that notion, however that's nothing more than ignorance as Amazon has an extraordinary brand among the general population)
Facebook/Instagram should just add a books section to their main page as a challenger to goodreads, maybe that'll help?
Social media is pretty dependent on how you use it - I have non-toxic experiences because I mostly only follow people I know on twitter/IG/FB. Turn off retweets (or equiv) for those who use it to spread negative bs.
I can’t imagine a more vapid collection of reading signaling posts.
This doesn't make any sense.
If consumers were already only buying through Amazon... why would Amazon continue to pay referral fees? The referral fee is there to get people who wouldn't buy through Amazon to buy through Amazon. But they were already buying through Amazon... so what's the point?
Goodreads was better at helping users find new books they wanted than amazon themselves and so it made sense for amazon to buy them.
I still don’t get it - people were already finding books on Goodreads and buying them on Amazon... so why did Amazon need to buy them? Why pay for it if it’s already working for you? And why pay a referral fee if people already want to ignore other options and go to Amazon to buy after finding on Goodreads?
So if 70% of goodreads profit is from Amazon, amazon figured they could just buy them since the cost of running goodreads is a lot lower than the commissions it makes so amazon was basically paying them anyway. better (in their view at the time) to just pay goodreads one off and buy the company than to pay each year in perpuity. depends on the price they bought it at
But why were they doing that?
"the vast majority of internet users were hooked on Amazon" so they were buying through Amazon anyway.
By just kicking them off the programme?
You don't have a legal right to be part of a referral programme.
Goodreads could've turned around and begun selling books direct, they had the customers buying intent, not amazon.
Other sites would've seen this move and begun to pivot away from amazon's affiliate system for fear of the rug being pulled out from underneath them.
Because if Amazon stopped paying those referral fees, then the website can stop posting links to Amazon, and instead post links solely to Amazon's competitors. Yes, people are hooked on Amazon and so even in the absence of a direct link they might browse over to Amazon and search for the product there, but that introduces a lot of friction and so Amazon would lose some business.
Connecting Oracle's purchase with the MySQL's market share is a long stretch. Even based on that diagram, the decline started earlier than the time Oracle came into play.
The quality and pace of development of MySQL/InnoDB hasn't meaningfully changed (although one may subtly observe that with v8, they radically changed the release philosophy - patch versions now can introduce new features or break old ones). There have been low and high quality features developed, but that happens with any software. In order to get an idea of how MySQL was around 10 years ago, notice how by that time, MyISAM was (unfortunately) still something.
A simple interpretation of the shift in market share is that PGSQL hasn't been ready for wide adoption (historically speaking, it's been considered for a long time the slow and cumbersome RDBMS), until, after a certain functional threshold, it entered a virtuous circle of improving and getting traction.
Of course, it's also possible that people is taking distance from MySQL "because Oracle", but that doesn't constitute a technical ground.
I thought that Bezos must have the best book recommendations. And that since he and Gaiman were friends he was able to pick perfect books that even Neil Gaiman didn’t know about.
That’s what I want. Unfortunately my plan to develop a relationship with Bezos to the extent that he buys me books has failed so far. So I look for more attainable methods.
My own bookish, nerdy Goodreads subculture is very different: we already have more books on our to-read list than we could realistically get through, we don’t really need auto-generated recommendations for more. We review a lot of serious non-fiction, not just the mass-market stuff, and genre tags like "dark" or "edgy" don't seem relevant, while being able to add "trigger warnings" misses the point.
Yes, GR users like myself are probably a minority, but we’re a very established and recognized minority. We're the sort that keeps some independent booksellers alive, for example, so any new site that aims to maintain a culture of books and reading ought to take us into account.
I've seen people looking for extremely specific books get stuck. "I'm looking for fantasy where the bad guy turns into a good guy but keeps working on the bad guy side but actively undermines it and also I want some LBGTI+ romance but no smut/explicit scenes". But I'm doubtful TheStoryGraph is going to help them either.
For almost any niche I've seen there's going to be someone somewhere on the internet who puts together a listicle of books in that niche which is going to provide months or years of reading for most normal people. And that's without even looking into the authors' back catalogues or looking at other authors from the same publishers.
At least some number of writers seem to get started by wanting to read a book that doesn't exist, so they decide to write it themselves.
The author complains that searching for 'holiday heart' didn't show Margarita García Robayo's book in the top hits. But searching for 'holiday heart robayo' does.
As for the rest of the piece...the belief that algorithmic recommendations are going to be easy for some shoestring budget startup run by a single person in their spare time is somehow going to do a good job simply isn't credible.
People still complain about Netflix recommendations and they've spent tens of millions of dollars, possibly over a hundred million dollars, on it and are one of the most valuable companies on the planet with one of the best engineering teams on the planet.
Why do people think algorithmic recommendations are easy? Or even desirable?
Well, this already makes Goodreads worse than any local librarian/book seller. I could go up to the counter of my local library and ask for Inferno and the person at the counter would ask "Are you looking for the one by Dante or by Dan Brown?".
> if you were at a bookstore you would always tell the clerk the author's name and not just say "Do you have Holiday Heart?"
I find this disingenuous. Bookstore clerks don't hit a dead end just because of some missing parameter in the question posted to them. If they did they're losing a lot of potential sales. Plus, any decent inventory software could aide them.
There's any number of authentic reasons why a customer might know only partial info about a book and it's a clerk/librarian's job to help them. "Do you have Narnia books?", "Do you have Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe?", "Do you have this fairy tale from C. S. Lewis" are all questions I'd expect a clerk/librarian to be able to answer adequately.
Even worse, quoting from the article:
> the first five suggestions were books that didn't even contain both words in their titles, despite the site having an entry for the book.
What kind of search system ranks books that don't even have the query that high?
(Disclaimer: I tried searching for "holiday heart" on Goodreads while logged out as a matter of due diligence; I did not get these subpar results. While Robayo's book is nowhere in sight, the search results at least have the search query in their title. Reasonable enough.)
If I type in Inferno, it drops down Dan Brown's, Sylvian Reynard's, and then Dante's. If I search for Narnia...actually it pops up as the first guess when I just type "N".
Turns out there are edge cases where it does poorly, but it's never been a problem for me, and I search Goodreads pretty often.
EDIT: I should clarify, searching by title or author works really well. Searching by additional metadata is missing, and that's very sad -- I end up just browsing lists. Openlibrary search has a much steeper learning curve, but you can search by reading level, or publisher, or anything.
The author is being disingenuous. The search terms aren't in the book title but they are in the name of the series the book is part of. Presumably because a lot of people search for "Jack Reacher" and expect to find something useful.
That's what they are complaining about.
On the other hand, when I use the search on goodreads itself, the Robayo book - with 298 ratings - is not among the first 20 results.
Ahead of it are books like:
"Home for the Holidays (Heart of the Wolf #28; Silver Town Wolf #9)" - no phrase match, pluralises holidays, splits the query between the book title and series, and has 178 ratings.
"The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-Hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style" - again no phrase match, heart becomes big-hearted, and it's a subtitle, and the book has 122 ratings
"Holiday of the Heart (Heart, #4)" - finally a book with both words in the title! But no phrase match, and this book has.... 2 ratings.
If the search doesn't support phrase matches, doesn't rank precise matches higher, and doesn't rank more popular books higher - how the hell is it ranking things?
Of course, goodreads is hardly the first site to have a shitty search that causes users to google things instead. The ranking could well be "whatever order elasticsearch produces"
The groups are so badly implemented that it takes multiple clicks to do ANYTHING and there is just no "timeline" like thing where you can post on a group. It won't take much time/resources for a social media to act like a 21st century social media right? Especially since it is owned by the company which created AWS?
from the author side:
I have a very common name and I've got an ebook up on Goodreads(I did not add it & I've not, for the life of me figured out how to submit the book)
But because Good reads thinks that because my name is what it is, they merged my profile with someone else with my exact same first name and last name.
I've done all I could to get them to change it, but they didn't bother to respond.
I wish more site would do this instead of collecting every single details about my life and still recommend be garbage sponsored content (looking at you Youtube).
Insane Toni Collette dinner table cinematic universe
Or look at this list of films directed by women, organized by poster color:
Lots of fun stuff like that, but then also lists composed around incredibly specific vibes:
wlw movies that aren't period dramas and don't have sad endings
(The author of that list says “wlw = an umbrella term referring to lesbian, bi, pan, and queer women”; new to me)
Good movies with no sex scenes to watch with your parents
The lists themselves are a sort of smart commentary.
Letterboxd gets right the one thing that so many recommendation algorithms get wrong: I'm fickle, and I like different stuff at different times, and I also want new things that I didn't even know I liked. The article about StoryGraph mentions this: too often, algorithms assume you only want more of A) what you listened to last time, or B) what's popular (looking at you, Apple Music).
On a separate topic, one thing I'll say about ratings is that while I find good ratings to be worthless – generally any media of even the most middling quality will have rabid fans somewhere, especially if it's serialized (TV shows, book series, Star Wars, etc.), bad ratings are useful to me; if something is rated badly it's generally because it's truly boring and devoid of any value whatsoever.
Anyway, thanks to the top-level poster for the link to Story Graph. I hope it becomes useful, and in the meantime I'll keep pining for someone to disrupt the rest of Amazon’s book empire as well.
This blog post talks about this exact subject: https://apenwarr.ca/log/20190201
> Why do people think algorithmic recommendations are easy? Or even desirable?
They're easier than you think, it's just most of them on major platforms are optimized to maximize your engagement with the platform, rather than your enjoyment of the content.
You can push a lot more pulp on unsuspecting people once it's familiar AND seen in a socially proofed popular list.
Start with some HN or Reddit style forum discussion code. Some income could come from affiliate links to indie booksellers. (Is there even infra for such a thing right now? Need to build that too?)
Edit, answering myself, this guy has some thoughts: https://tomcritchlow.com/2020/04/15/library-json/
Edit, as for the index corpus, the USLC does okay: https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchArg=0312937385&se...
What would be the legal background of using their index?
Here's the best selling book in Germany:
It used to be that authors needed to deposit a copy of every new book at USLC, that's probably an old thing.
I can’t really take it seriously while it still looks like some random programmer’s side project.
That said, it’s readable and mobile friendly, so that’s a win.
Rather, the problem is the long-standing bugs that Amazon has never bothered to fix, because it can’t see any financial incentive to develop Goodreads further. The book database is a mess and even those of us empowered as "Goodreads librarians" are unable to help much. For example, today many authors might have the same name, a problem only made worse with all the self-publishing going on. Yet the Goodreads librarian UI has no straightforward way to assign a new book to this or that author of the same name. Instead, you have to use a hack where for author X you have to type two spaces between the first name and surname, for author Y you have to type three spaces, etc. It is totally amateur, and when you have 20 authors all of the same name you have no reference for which author has how many spaces typed between the first name and surname.
It doesn't do a great job with recommendations but I don't really care. There are thousands of book recommendation blogs, lists, BookTube channels, etc.
I'm not sure why people think every site/app needs to evolve to engulf every tangential aspect of a given ecosystem.
HN can never make up its mind whether it likes distributed systems or not.
HN also loves the benign neglect of HN itself (formatting on mobile still broken after 20 years?)
On my previous phone (iPhone 6s), the app seemed to be much better designed, though it has been a while since I have used it. Honestly, my biggest gripe is that it's owned by Amazon. I generally try to support smaller retailers when making purchases, and would love to find another service that helps me track my reading and discover new books.
I remember thinking surely someone like Amazon could build something better than this. Not sure what I suddenly expected it to be, exactly, but it just felt like the whole UX was something from a decade ago.
Sure it’s great for keeping track of books I’ve read and whatnot but I’ve tried to use it to dig deep and find new authors and books similar to my tastes but didn’t find a lot of success.
In the music world I’ve had a ton of success finding new artists on Spotify’s “Fans also like” section. And I can keep following one artist to another to another. Books are obviously different in that it takes quite a bit longer to learn whether or not you like a new author than it does to listen to a new artist’s top few tracks, but still...after trying a few new authors and books, I never found that magical recommendation engine I was hoping for.
All I want from Goodreads is:
* A nice way to see all the books I've read
* Maintain a list of "Want to read books"
* A decent recommendation system for my next read
I mostly stopped using GR because it just seemed like a noise platform — and, I guess obviously, I didn’t want to give Amazon any more data about me.
This pattern has occurred repeatedly with metadata associated with digital media; CDDB vs. iTunes, IMDB vs. Amazon DVD listings, Goodreads vs. Amazon book listings.
Rather than assuming that Amazon is strategically hampering Goodreads functionality, I assume that Amazon is a large company that misses opportunities to delight its customers. Giggles ensue every time I come across a "We don't have any cast information" message in Amazon Prime Video.
Hanlon's Razor  applies: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".
Is it discussing new books?
If so, what is the reason people want to discuss new books? Anybody here who does it?
If so: Why do you do it? And do you do it before or after you read it?
As a TL;DR for Good read users: The StoryGraph. Check it out.