Thoughts on Goodreads 

I’ve always seen Goodreads as a poorly designed web site with a very active reading community with a lot to offer…if you search through the menus. A part of the reason for the sloppiness is that Goodreads does a lot more than keep a database of the books you’ve read. Goodreads allows people to push themselves with reading challenges, has sections for finding book deals, book giveaways, reading recommendations based on your library, author events, connecting with authors, the ever popular groups, asking an author a question, new releases, book news and author interviews, quizzes and even trivia. When it comes to content,  it’s clear to see why Goodreads is so popular.

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The slide out menu on the mobile web site

The problem with Goodreads is how you access it. The desktop web site, mobile web site and the app versions do not offer the same amount of content. You would think the mobile web site would offer the same content as desktop web site, but it doesn’t. And the app, I’ll get to that in a minute.

When accessing Goodreads via a web site, which version you get depends on the size of your screen. My Nexus 6 (6″ screen) and laptop display the regular web site while my Pixel XL (5.5″ screen) sends me to the mobile web site. This sholdn;t be a problem, but good luck finding your groups on the mobile web site, which only allows you to see recent notifications when you top on the G at the top of the slide out menu. Try getting to your groups, I dare you. You simply can’t. groups is the most popular part of Good reads, so why would they make it impossible to get to on the mobile wen site?

The mobile web site will allow you to see your profile, books, recommendations, reading challenge, choice awards, friends, and that’s about it. You’re fresh out of luck if you want to connect with an author, visit your groups, find free books or author events. It does allow you to switch to the regular web site (Desktop version), but good luck with that on phones with smaller screens.

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Mobile app

The Goodreads app does give you access to your groups, but not author events, book deals, free books or connecting with authors. Why wouldn’t the Goodreads app and mobile web site offer everything that’s available via the regular web site? Give me a break!

The only things that are consistent in all three versions of Goodreads are cataloging your books, which it does well, and accessing your friends list.

As for the friends list, it’s a bit of a joke. It’s easy to add friends, but the challenge comes when you want to edit your friends list. For instance, I recently wanted to remove friends who aren’t active on Goodreads and found this task to be outrageously cumbersome. And again, editing your friends list is yet another task that can only be done on the web site. If you want to do it in the app, you’re out of luck.

To edit your friends list, go to the web site and click on Friends, then the edit button (top right). From there you can easily edits your top friends or click on the X to remove a friend, wait for the screen to refresh, then continue editing the list. There’s no way to remove more than one friends at a time or make any bulk changes. The task was so cumbersome that I never finished removing non-active friends. Since I’ll never see reviews or posts from them, it’s not a big deal, but the list is a bit too long and a simple task shouldn’t be this difficult.

For a web site that does a lot things well, I’m amazed by how useless the app and mobile sites are. I love finding book deals by genre and where I shop (the options are iBooks, Google Play, Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble), the groups are very active and have a lot to offer, finding author events is worth a look, the reading challenge is fun and the ability to ask an author a question is an interesting concept that I have yet to try. Heck, I’m behind anything that allows readers to connect with their community. I just wish Goodreads would get their act together.


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