Goodreads and concession stand networking

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!”

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

2 replies on “Goodreads and concession stand networking”

  1. ’ll get friend requests from someone that I don’tknow and when I look at their profiles, more often than not, they have 0 books “read” and 1,598 friends.

    Yeah, I’ve been getting those too, and I am nobody…

    I’ve decided to start trying to use Pinterest to keep track of everything I’ve reviewed this year, see how it goes.

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