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Goodreads logo.svg
Goodreads screenshot.png
Goodreads homepage
Web address
Type of site
Catalog and community
Registration Free
Available in English
Owner Otis Chandler, (from Q2 2013 on)
Created by Otis Chandler
Launched December 2006; 8 years ago (2006-12)
Alexa rank
positive decrease 273 (July 2015)[1]
Current status Active

Goodreads is an Amazon company and "social cataloging" website founded in December 2006 and launched in January 2007 by Otis Chandler II, a software engineer and entrepreneur, and Elizabeth Chandler.[2][3] Otis Chandler II is the grandson of Otis Chandler, who was the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and is the great-great-great grandson of Harrison Gray Otis, the founder of the newspaper. The website allows individuals to freely search Goodreads' extensive user-populated database of books, annotations, 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 and discussions. In December 2007, the site had over 650,000 members[4] and over 10,000,000 books had been added.[5] As of July 2012, the site reported 10 million members, 20 million monthly visits, and 30 employees.[6] On July 23, 2013, it was announced on their website that the user base had grown to 20 million members, doubling in close to 11 months.[7] The website's offices are in San Francisco.[8]

On March 28, 2013, Amazon announced its acquisition of Goodreads for an undisclosed amount.[9]


The Chandlers created Goodreads in 2006. 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."[3] 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.[5] This funding lasted Goodreads until 2009, when Goodreads received two million dollars from True Ventures.[10] In October 2010 the company opened its API, which enabled developers to access its ratings and titles.[11] Goodreads also receives a small commission when a user clicks over from its site to an online bookseller and makes a purchase.[2]

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."[2][12] 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.[2][12] Later that year, Goodreads introduced an algorithm to suggest books to registered users and had over five million members.[13] The New Yorker's Macy Halford noted that the algorithm wasn't 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."[14]

In October 2012, Goodreads announced it had grown to 11 million members with 395 million books catalogued and over 20,000 book clubs created by its users.[15] Only one month later, in November 2012, Goodreads had surpassed 12 million members, with the member base having doubled in one year.[16] announced in March 2013 that it had reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads in the second quarter of 2013 for an undisclosed sum.[17][18][19]


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.[20] Once a user has added friends to his/her profile, s/he will see the 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.[21] It 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.[22] Goodreads organizes offline opportunities as well, such as IRL book exchanges and "literary pub crawls".[23]

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.[24] Already "Seventeen thousand authors, including James Patterson and Margaret Atwood, use Goodreads to advertise."[2]

Additionally, Goodreads has a presence on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.[25][26][27] Linking a Goodreads account with a social networking account, like Facebook or Nook Friends, 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. This constant linkage from Goodreads to other social networking sites keeps information flowing and connectivity continuous.[28]

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (both 1 and 2) and Kindle Voyage feature integration with Goodreads' social network via a user interface button.[29]

The Shelfie App recently launched a Goodreads integration that allows users to sync their Goodreads account. Once synced using Goodreads, users can import their Goodreads collections to get either free or discounted e-books of the print books in their collection. [30]

Future growth[edit]

Otis Chandler told TechCrunch in August 2012 that Goodreads would be "building more features allowing readers to update their profiles as they read a book" and was "talking to the Facebook team about building book clubs within the social network."[25] He felt that a major reason for the recent growth in members was Goodreads' new Facebook Open Graph app.[25]

Readers Choice Awards[edit]

The Readers Choice Awards is a yearly award program, first launched on Goodreads in 2009. Users are able to nominate books of their choosing, released in the given year. The final voting round collects the top ten books from 20 different categories.[31]





Criticism and controversy[edit]

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.[32] 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. However, some users worried that their reading records would be lost. However, 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.[32] However, after Amazon acquired Goodreads, Goodreads began using their book data again.[33]

Goodreads received criticism from users about the availability and tone of reviews posted on the site; some users and websites have stated that certain reviewers were harassing and encouraging attacks on authors.[34][35] Goodreads publicly posted their review guidelines in August 2012 to address these issues.[36] In September 2013, Goodreads announced a new anti-bullying policy which authorized the removal of abusive content throughout the site, sparking a great deal of controversy among authors and readers.[37] 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[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Goodreads Ranking". Alexa. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Miller, Claire Cain (2011-03-10). "Need Advice on What to Read? Ask the Internet". New York Times Bits. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Goodreads. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Good reads: book nerds social networking, TechCoastReview, retrieved 2007-09-17 .
  5. ^ a b "Goodreads Raises Angel Round To Help You Find That Perfect Book". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Lee, Ellen (21 July 2012). "Goodreads' Otis Chandler reviews growth". SF Gate. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Book lovers seething over Amazon acquisition of Goodreads", Inside Bay area .
  9. ^ Olanoff, Drew. "Amazon Acquires Social Reading Site Goodreads, Which Gives The Company A Social Advantage Over Apple". SF Gate. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (December 14, 2009). "What Goodreads will do with its new millions". LA Times. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Goodreads Launches Social Reading API". Read write Web. October 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Hopkins, Curt. "Goodreads Buys Recommendation Service Discovereads". ReadWrite. 
  13. ^ Frassica, Matt (July 2, 2011). "For ebook devotees, reading is a whole new experience". The Louisville Courier Journal (USA Today). Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Halford, Macy (Nov 2011). "Getting Good at Goodreads". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  15. ^ Fidelman, Mark (16 October 2012). "These are Top 25 Book Reviewers on Goodreads" (infographic). Forbes. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Greenfield, Jeremy (November 8, 2012), "Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler on the Future of Discoverability and Social Reading", Digital book world 
  17. ^ to Acquire Goodreads, Corporate IR .
  18. ^ "Exciting News About Goodreads: We're Joining the Amazon Family!", Good reads .
  19. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (March 28, 2013). "Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Goodreads". Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  21. ^ "Groups". Goodreads. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Strickland, Jonathan. "How Goodreads Works". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  23. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (14 August 2012). "Goodreads reaches 10 million users". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Author Program". Goodreads. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c Ha, Anthony. "Reading Is Alive And Well At Social Reading Site Goodreads, Which Just Hit 10M Members". Tech Crunch. AOL Tech. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  26. ^ "Goodreads". Twitter. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  27. ^ "Goodreads". Pinterest. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Goodreads". Goodreads. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  29. ^ Amazon's next Kindle Paperwhite outed ahead of its official launch via Amazon's own leak.
  30. ^ [1].
  31. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (30 October 2012). "Goodreads launches its 2012 awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Owen, Laura Hazard. "As Goodreads Ends Sourcing From Amazon, Users Fear Lost Books". Paid Content: The Economics of Digital Content. Gigaom. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  33. ^ Rivka (May 23, 2013). "The Announcement You've All Been Waiting For". Goodreads Librarians Group forums. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  34. ^ Driscoll, Molly (July 23, 2012). "Goodreads reviews: Are they fair?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  35. ^ Deutsch, Lindsay (July 20, 2012). "Stephen Covey's final written work; Goodreads bullies". USA Today. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  36. ^ Brown, Patrick (Aug 6, 2012). "Review Guidelines & Updated Author Guidelines". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  37. ^ Erikson, Kara (Sep 20, 2013). "Important Note Regarding Reviews". Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  38. ^ Pilkington, Mercy (Sep 21, 2013). "Goodreads Modifies User Terms to Prevent Author Bullying, Reviewers Outraged". Retrieved 21 September 2013. 


External links[edit]