I wrote this article for the ARRA newsletter last year when I discovered Goodreads.
A few weeks ago, I succumbed to the inevitable: I signed up for Goodreads.
My bookshelf is the most packed it’s been since my early uni days when Mills & Boon invaded my bedroom and multiplied while I was asleep. I needed a way to organise my titles, to keep track of what I have, what I’ve read, what I’ve lent out to friends, and, okay, what I’d like to buy.
I could have used a spreadsheet, but I’m lazy and I want someone else to do most of the work for me. I had so far resisted the lure of online bookshelves. I’m already saturated by social networks—Facebook, blogs, Twitter—on top of all the other technology designed to keep me connected and distracted. So I was reluctant to sign up for yet another time-sucking thingamajig. But when I asked other readers how they kept track of books, most of them sent me a link to a virtual bookshelf.
Deciding which bookshelf to use can be a bit of a stress. What if I spend a week entering all my books and ratings only to find that the application sucks? The risk! The commitment! So I brainstormed a series of tests I could use to evaluate which book tracking application would suit me best.
The first test was that it had to look good for the blog. Yes, I’m shallow. Immediately I narrowed the list down to three: Booktagger, an Aussie product; Goodreads, which most of my Twitter friends seem to use; and weRead, which I was using on Facebook. I used a number of search terms for some favourite Aussie authors and recent releases to see which application would find the books with ease. Eventually, I picked Goodreads.
And I haven’t looked back.
To be honest, I’ve become a tiny bit obsessed. There’s something incredibly satisfying about ticking off all the books I’ve read. I’ve also begun feeling competitive about the number of books I’ve listed and about other people’s ratings (Five stars for that horrible book! Or worse: How dare these people give my favourite book one star!).
But by far the most nefarious thing about online bookshelves—especially those like Goodreads where you connect with friends and can see what each other is reading—is the huge impact it’s had on my wishlist.
I think I’ve found a solution to this dilemma, though. When my family asks me what I want for my Christmas, I’m sending them a link to my Goodreads wishlist!
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the ARRA Newsletter in March 2010.