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Goodbye Goodreads, Hello StoryGraph!

Written by: Natalie C.

As quarantine carries on in most countries across the globe, more and more people have turned to
books for solace. This increased interest in reading has heightened traffic on platforms such as YouTube
and Goodreads, where the online book community come together to discuss anything and
everything book-related.
One topic of discussion, that has made its rounds throughout much of the book
community, surrounds the mega-popular book-tracking website: Goodreads. Specifically, the ethics
and practicality of using Goodreads in this day-and-age compared to that of the brand-new book tracking platform currently rising in popularity: The StoryGraph.
This article will break down Goodreads’s faults, according to a few prominent members of the online
book community, as well as The StoryGraph’s strengths. In addition, as an active reader who frequents
both websites, I will be discussing my personal comparison of the two platforms, commenting
on whether or not The StoryGraph lives up to its hype.
The Fall of Goodreads
Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has grown from a small, individually-run book-tracking platform to
one that has amassed over 90 million users and is owned by one of the biggest corporations in the
world: Amazon. Amazon has a history of problematic practices, which were recently spotlighted in the
public eye during the COVID-19 pandemic when founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, was slated to become the
world’s first trillionaire by 2026, this news leading many –myself included -to learn more about
Amazon’s harmful impact on the environment as well as their mistreatment/underpayment
of their employees (Sonnemaker).
Upon finding out about these alarming practices, many have tried to phase Amazon out of their day -today lives –such as shopping smaller –and this desire to put ethics ahead of convenience has found its
way to the book community, whose majority relies on an Amazon-owned platform to track their
reading. LeenaNorms, a member of the BookTube community, stated in her video entitled “Goodreads
is dead. What now?” that “the more we can all take a step back [from Amazon], the
better” (LeenaNorms).
In addition to Goodreads’s unethical ownership, the website itself has been criticized for its poor user
experience. BookTuber, Itsdivya, made a video titled “I hate Goodreads” in which she describes
Goodreads as “ugly,” stating, “if any one of you want to go back in time, but you don’t have a Tardis, just
go on Goodreads” (Itsdivya). Similarly, BookTuber, The Artisan Geek, describes the website as “outdated”
and expresses her frustration with its book-finding search engine, asking, “Can you even call it a search
engine at this point?” (The Artisan Geek). LeenaNorms asserts similar grievances, at one
point claiming “if they [Amazon] tell me that they have spent millions…investing in this site, I’m going to
tell them that they need to get their money back from the web developers because…this is an ugly site”
(LeenaNorms).
Clearly, readers are fed up with Goodreads, so what better time for a passion-project-turned independently-owned-app to flourish!
The Rise of StoryGraph
Towards the end of her video, LeenaNorms conducts an interview with the founder and co-owner of
The StoryGraph, web developer NadiaOdunayo. Throughout this, Odunaya expresses how her long-held
practice as an “avid reader” spurred her passion for creating and launching the Beta version
of The StoryGraph in 2020 (LeenaNorms). In addition, Odunayo stressesthe importance of both her
product and company mission, stating that, while The StoryGraph app’s purpose is to help others choose
their next book, The StoryGraph company’smission is to “enhance the lives of avid readers everywhere
and inspire non-readers to read” (LeenaNorms).
The utter passion behind this app’s development speaks volumes for how lovingly users’ feedback and
suggestions are handled, prompting many who have already switched over to the site to be
impressed. In The Artisan Geek’s video, “A Chat about Books and Amazon,” she talks about how
“promising” The StoryGraph is, exploring the site’s features and concluding her fan-girling of the
site’s actually-functioning book search engine with “this is just an amazing site and I’m not just saying
that because Nadia [the founder] is my friend” (The Artisan Geek). Her praise for the platform is only
supported by LeenaNorms’sinitial reactions to the platform in which she comments on the speedy
importation of her Goodreads data to her StoryGraph account, the sense of community she feels when
she adds a previously-nonexistent book to the database as well as the excitement she feels towards the
platform’s book-finding feature based on the reader’s preferences, favorite genres/tropes and even
mood!
Needless to say, The StoryGraph has garnered a massive amount of support in only a few short
months, which prompted me to have the highest of expectations as I made my account a couple of
months ago and finally saw for myself what all of the hype is about.
What I Love
Upon first logging in, I immediately took notice of the clean, uncluttered look of
the The StoryGraph compared to Goodreads’s archaic interface. I was also pleasantly surprised by how
quickly all of my Goodreads data was able to load into the site, albeit with some minor mistakes
scattered about my “Read” section of 2020.
One feature that I absolutely adore is the ability to rate books with decimals rather than whole numbers
(now I can finally rate a book 4.5 stars rather than a perfect 5!) In addition, one feature that I find
particularly unique and practical –which was only just put into place a couple of weeks after I signed up
– is the ability to add content warnings when reviewing a book. This allows users who are sensitive to
certain topics to be properly warned, all without getting spoiled!
Finally, I love the community-driven “Reading Challenges” section of the website in which readers can
create, share and join reading challenges to help them discover new books, authors and genres that
they never would have found otherwise!
What I Would Like to See
It is important to note that this website not only just launched its official version in January of 2021, but
that, according to the founder herself, StoryGraph will constantly be changing and listening to their
users! Therefore, I wanted to highlight a couple of features I actually like about Goodreads that I hope
The StoryGraph will eventually adapt to their own platform.
One feature of Goodreads that I have always liked is the ability to add favorite book quotes and favorite
authors to your profile. I think this is a fun way to allow users to connect with one another (or – in the
case of someone like me with 0 Goodreads friends –just a way to keep track of my favorites!) Because
of the StoryGraph’s much more user-friendly experience, I think these features would be an excellent
way to build community among readers across the platform.
Additionally, I have enjoyed participating in many of Goodreads’s book giveaways; despite not having
won any books, I still have fun dreaming about owning some of my favorite releases!
As The StoryGraph grows, I hope they will be able to partner with book publishers and
distributors across the globe so that users can also have a shot at winning their favorites books.
Conclusion
To conclude, I believe that The StoryGraph is a greatly promising book-tracking platform, and I am so
happy that it is amassing the attention and support that it needs to continue to expand and – perhaps
one day – surpass Goodreads in popularity! By next year, I hope to have completely let go of Goodreads
for good in favor of this more modern and ethical alternative.
Whether you are someone who loves reading, wants to get into reading or just likes keeping track of
books you own, I highly recommend you check out The StoryGraph by signing up for free
at www.thestorygraph.com! Happy reading!
Works Cited
The Artisan Geek. “A Chat about Books and Amazon.” YouTube, 10 Aug. 2020,
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPj_Knx-LCA. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.
Itsdivya. “i hate goodreads.” YouTube, 9 Nov. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHHCbztwaPY.
Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.
LeenaNorms. “Goodreads is dead. What now?” YouTube, 18 Sept. 2020,
www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMiJDv265kA. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.
Sonnemaker, Tyler. “Jeff Bezos is on Track to Become a Trillionaire by 2026 — Despite an Economykilling Pandemic and Losing $38 Billion in His Recent Divorce.” Business Insider, 14 May 2020,
www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-on-track-to-become-trillionaire-by-2026-2020-5#. Accessed 7 Jan.
2021.

Author

CCA

Published

February 22nd, 2021

Category

School Newspaper

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