[Note: if you don't use Goodreads, and never plan to, there is zero need to read this post. Scroll down to read about Banned Books Week, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, and other things instead.]
I’ve been using Goodreads, a social networking site for readers, since 2007. I started using it as a way to keep track of books I’d read, as well as to keep an actual (as opposed to mental) “to-read” list. I’m still using it that way, and now I have a personal database with five years of data that I can consult anytime someone needs a recommendation.
Not only can I sort books by self-created categories (“shelves”), such as young adult, mystery, history, or science, I can also look back on my own ratings and reviews, and see friends’ reviews as well. Friends’ reviews count for a lot: research has shown that a recommendation from a friend is likely to be more influential than a professional review, a bookstore or library display, or an auto-generated Amazon suggestion.
Overall, Goodreads’ usability and user experience (how easy and how pleasant it is to use the site) are pretty top-notch. The only problems I’ve ever had are (1) when the site is getting too much traffic and I’m not able to access it for a few minutes; this message is accompanied by an elegant line drawing of a woman sitting in a chair reading a book, and (2) creating a fourth permanent shelf for “partially-read” books, in addition to the three automatic shelves: read, currently-reading, and to-read.
This is such a small thing, but I’ve had conversations with other Goodreads users, and it’s come up for most of us. Though a book can be on as many of your self-created shelves as you want, it must also be on one – and only one – of the three original shelves. But what if a book is neither read, currently-reading, or to-read? What if you read the first few chapters and put it down, never to return? (There’s no guilt in that.) Many people have created shelves for these books, such as “partially-read,” “abandoned,” or “unfinished,” but the book still had to be on one of the original three.
This is no longer the case, I’m glad to report. I wrote to Goodreads about it, and a Customer Care Representative got back to me overnight to inform me that I could make my partially-read shelf “exclusive” by going to the Edit Shelves page and checking a box. Which I did. And it worked. I’m not sure how long that’s been an option – it wasn’t in 2007, I don’t think, but I could be wrong – but it is now.
So, big points to Goodreads for creating a great site and being responsive to its users. This is how it’s done.