Are Social Media Book Sites Replacing Blogs?

Once a week I make the rounds of blogs, and am always happy to find new blogs.  New bloggers are fresh, while those of us who have been around for several years have our tired days.

My sense is that many people are switching to social media sites like Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing.

I recently joined Goodreads, which claims to be “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.”  You can keep a book journal, review books,  join book groups,  or participate in the 2014 Reading Challenge, where 657,404 members challenge themselves to read a certain numger of books: the average is 52.  There are also 90 pages of giveaways.

Sometimes Goodreads recommends books I am dying to read, like Louisa Treger’s The Lodger, a historical novel about the modernist writer Dorothy Richardson, sometimes said to have invented stream of consciousness.

Goodreads gets a lot of attention from the press. On Feb. 12, 2013 The New York Times published an article about social media groups, highlighting the popular Goodreads book group founded by Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club.  The group is currently reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Line and Giano Cromley’s The Last Good Halloween.  Occasionally it reads small press books.

In this same New York Times article, Amanda Close, who runs digital marketplace development for Random House, said:

“Because Goodreads is not a publisher or retailer, people feel that the information is not getting manipulated.  People trust them because they are so crowd-sourced and their members are fanatics. You can’t buy a five-star review there.”

I have joined more Goodreads groups than is wise, since I have a poor record of participating. I enjoy “Victorians!,” which is currently discussing Agnes Grey.

I also joined Retro Chapter Chicks, because I love the name.  They’re reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, and how can you go wrong with that?

I have looked at Shelfari, but find it hard to navigate.  It’s got what I call a “moving text” column  of  recent reader updates, always in motion,and I find it distracting.

Amazon now owns Goodreads and Shelfari.  To give it its due, Goodreads doesn’t push Amazon:  if you want to buy a book you can also click on the tab “online bookstores,” which lists Barnes and Noble, Better World Books, and many other choices.

Am I becoming a Goodreads person?  Well, nothing will replace blogs.

7 thoughts on “Are Social Media Book Sites Replacing Blogs?

  1. Each round of change shows people writing less per entry; I have found goodreads too general and short to convey the quallity of the text. Yes if one were in a self-enclosed group where people know one another you might have a genuinely stimulating discussion with lots of content.

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    • Yes, Ellen, most of the entries are very short. Some people are very knowledgeable and interesting,and they very patiently try to persuade other readers to look more closely at books. Some of the reviews, however, are as long as blogs. They’re rather like Amazon reviews.

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  2. I originally joined Goodreads just to get the widget on my blog’s sidebar. I stayed because so many people I knew were over there. The entire website Constant Reader migrated over there a few years back.

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  3. Goodreads is great fun, though I haven’t done much except list books I’ve read. Today I was looking at reviews of Elizabeth von Arnim’s Vera, one of my favorite booksand they are quite interesting. I’ll have to look up Constant Reader. (And thanks for “befriending” me on Goodreads!)

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    • You’re welcome. Constant Reader has some great discussions in their archives. I think they have links to some of them at the bottom of their Goodreads page.

      I am still amazed sometimes that when I search for reviews, it’s the Goodreads ones that have the tendency to pop up near the top. Don’t know if that’s because Google wants me to go there, or more and more people are posting reviews there in an effort to get them seen.

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  4. I use both – bloggers I trust for longer, more enlightening reviews, LT (and occasionally Goodreads) for a quick snapshot of what a book is about. I prefer LT to GR really because they seem slightly more independent – but I always like to have a spread of views to help me decide if a book is for me!

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