I’ve been a member of Goodreads since March 2008, over four years. I found out about the social networking site from a friend who knew of my predilection for books. Indeed, he told me about the site in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I joined shortly thereafter.
I use the site as a kind of secondary site for keeping track of the books I’ve read. My authoritative list is here, but Goodreads allows me to easily share what I am reading with friends, both on and off the site. For instance, if I start “reading” a book on Goodreads, it will also be reflected on Facebook and Twitter. I will occasionally post reviews of books that I enjoyed on Goodreads, and I’ll rate books that I’ve read there as well.
When I started selling stories, it was suggested that I get a Goodreads author page, which I did, but which I rarely update.
At the present moment, I have “read” 383 books on Goodreads and have a total of 540 that I’ve either read/rated or marked as “to-read.” I also have just under 100 friends on the social network.
I think Goodreads is a great social-networking site for people who like to read and like to share what they read with their friends. That is what makes it a useful and fun tool. But I’ve noticed a trend lately and I’m not sure that I like it. I’ll get friend requests from someone that I don’t know and when I look at their profiles, more often than not, they have 0 books “read” and 1,598 friends. Now, given what I imagine to be the purpose of the site, I’d expect to the see the opposite: someone who has read 1,598 books and has 0 friends (well, maybe 1 or 2). After all, if you’ve read that many books, you probably have little time for anything else. On the other hand, if you have read 0 book, maybe you really do have time for 1,598 friends. But then, why are you on Goodreads? Wouldn’t Facebook or Twitter or Google+ be a more appropriate social network? Joining Goodreads and having 0 books (or 2 or 3 books, all of which are books that you have authored) just seems odd to me.
My guess is that more independent authors are seeing Goodreads not as a social networking site for people who, you know, actually like to read good books, but instead as a place to market their latest novel. That’s not why I joined Goodreads. I’ve continued to accept friend requests from folks who have read 0 books (or any books in their list are strictly their own) but going forward, I think I am going to stop. I’m perfectly happy to read reviews of the books you’ve read and see what tastes we have in common and perhaps even take a chance on some of the books you’ve recommended. But you can’t do that with 0 books. I’m not interested in being marketed to. I understand that I may be in the minority in this, but it seems to me that the purpose of Goodreads is being twisted from a social network of bibliophiles into a megaphone for authors to ply their wares.
It’s too bad, really. Goodreads is a lot of fun when you don’t have the concession stand shouts of “Get your Why-Aye Vampire Romance Mystery novel here!”