I’m using goodreads

I’m using goodreads

When Amazon bought goodreads (and that’s how it is capitalized on the site), I was one of those people who wasn’t really using it, but was using Amazon extensively.

Honestly, it was a question of not wanting to divide my attention even more. I already have a family, a full time (and then some) job, write at least an average of 1,000 words a day in this blog, have two other blogs (neither of which takes a lot of time), spend large amounts of time helping out in the Kindle forums as a Kindle Forum Pro, and, oh yeah, write a book every once in a while. 😉

Something has to show real value for me to spend time and energy on it.

As Amazon has integrated goodreads more into the Kindleverse, I’ve gotten into using it a bit.

I’m still no expert, certainly.

I just decided today to make some things more public. I’ve allowed people to follow my reviews, for example. When I’ve polled my readers here about features, reviews have not come out high on the list. Still, I enjoy writing them (and haven’t completely abandoned them here), and I figure somebody might like to see them. 🙂

My understanding is that my reviews have already been showing up on the Goodreads’ page for that book…I don’t think you can stop that. Now, though, someone can elect to “follow” them, and they’ll be notified when I write a new one.

I think you can do that (and ask to become my friend?) by going here:


I know some of you readers are well-versed in Goodreads. I’d appreciate some advice: will this somehow mean that I have a lot of things to which to attend? Am I going to be approving Friends frequently, for example?

Well, I thought you would want to know. 😉

Here’s how I’m using it:

I do add books to it as I get them, and at some point, I’ll add a lot more of the books I own in paper. That’s not as easy as it seems: I know you can scan barcodes on them, but many of the books I have seem to predate any useful scannable marks. 🙂

I wish there was some other categorization than “want to read”, “read”, and “currently reading” when you add a book. Maybe I can add a shelf of some kind and do that?

When I finish a book, I am marking it as finished and adding a rating and a review.

For me, that’s the sort of addictive part at this point. 🙂 It’s not the writing of the review so much: it’s my natural tendency to be honest and accurate. If I said I was currently reading it, and then I finished it, I want to change it.

Some of the books which say “currently reading” may be ones that I haven’t read in weeks…but which I am still in the process of reading. I have some books into which I just dip from time to time…maybe with text-to-speech during a car ride.

I plan to eventually finish them. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t abandon a book.

No doubt, the “currently reading” status on some of my books will outlast me: gee, do they have a setting for “was reading it, but no longer alive”? 😉

I find the interface, even at the site, to be a bit glitchy (or perhaps it works mechanically and is just not intuitive). For example, there is a listing on the homescreen (on the website) of books I’m reading. Every time I try and update one from there to “read”, I get a red “Error” message. I appear to have to go to my Books first, and do it there.

In terms of the integration with our Kindles, I don’t find I use that very much. I suppose that might change, now. I just accepted my first “Friend” request, and that person’s reading is showing up. That might be interesting.

The “Add Your Amazon Books” only seems to go back so far. If it would add all my books from Amazon (we have over 3,000 Kindle books), that  would  be great…but it doesn’t. It’s a decent help for adding new purchases.

Well, I think what I’ll do at this point is open it up to you. What’s the best thing about Goodreads for you? Do you find it effective on your Kindle? Are there any settings or activities you’d recommend for me? Any warnings? 😉 Feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

Update: here’s another example of the difficulties I encounter using goodreads..

I recently bought a book, and wanted to add it to my goodreads books. There was a book there with the same ISBN and a similar title…but the entry was very incomplete. The author’s name was incomplete, and the publisher was different.

I first had tried entering it as a new book. It wouldn’t allow that, because the ISBN was different. That’s reasonable: cuts down on duplicate books.

I tried entering it as another edition of the first book, which is probably the case. It had a link for that, but wouldn’t let me do it. It wouldn’t accept it with the same ISBN, of course, but I had clicked “add a new edition”.

I tried editing the details of the first listing: I didn’t have the authority.

I ended up entering it as a book without an ISBN…so now, there are two listings for the book. I left in the note in the decription explaining the situation…hopefully, someone else can fix it.

Bonus deal:

Amazon does “Kindle Countdown Deals”. Those are limited time offers on Kindle books…you can actually see when they will no longer be on sale.

I checked it out quite a bit when it first started happening, but I was having trouble with discovery…I couldn’t find books I wanted.

Well, I’ve done something that seems to help:

Kindle Countdown Deals by average customer review (at AmazonSmile)

This sort will show you the highest rated books first. That can make it easier to find something that you’ll enjoy (and often for ninety-nine cents).

Amazon’s “average customer review” isn’t a simple averaging…there are a lot of books with a single review which is five-stars, but they don’t show up at the top here.

When I look at reviews on Amazon, I do take into account the number of stars…but I also consider the number of reviews. I would have more confidence in a book with a 4.8 rating and a 1,000 reviews than a book with a 5.0 rating (a perfect score) and ten reviews.

That’s not to say that my tastes and the tastes of the majority always match. It’s just that it is easier to manipulate the ratings when there are fewer people involved.

You also have to consider who tends to review books. More recent books are likely to have a lot more reviews than older books. I doubt very many people go back to their favorite books which they read years ago and add a review. I think that’s why you’ll see more reviews on something like The Hunger Games than on, oh, Tom Sawyer.

One other thing (and it’s a big one) about this sort: it’s a great way to find books you can borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library! You’ll see that you can borrow them here, and even choose categories. Remember that you’ll have to actually borrow them from your hardware Kindle, but this at least is a way to find them on your computer. Enjoy!


Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.


* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


16 Responses to “I’m using goodreads”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    “gee, do they have a setting for “was reading it, but no longer alive”?”

    When the time comes, if this option is available and you figure out how to use it, here’s hoping you find some way to come back and post the solution online.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Well, I was kind of hoping my Significant Other would make the changes…but I guess that wouldn’t happen. 😉 If I find a way to post when I’m “post”, I will…

  2. Karin Bird Says:

    There are two things that I love about Goodreads: keeping track of all the books I read, and the reviews.
    I only add the books that I am reading now, I don’t go back before 2008 (when I started using it). I have noticed people do add in thousands of books. Goodreads keeps track of your number of books and pages read. You can see a graph of what year the books were written. This is all under stats in my books page.
    I also use it for the reviews. I have not found a book yet that hasn’t been reviewed on Goodreads.
    These two things don’t really take that much time, unless you want it to.
    There are a lot of groups that you can join, and you can spend a lot of time or not.
    You can follow readers ( I follow about 6 authors), or ask to become friends. Then you will receive any updates from them, such as reviews, blog entries, and reading progress.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karin!

      Actually, that paperbook I just recently bought didn’t have a review on goodreads…I may be the first. 😉

      I think I’ll stay off the groups and such for now…I honestly expect to be more of a contributor than a consumer at this point. That’s often the case for me: I add material, but don’t follow a lot of others. That’s not because I don’t respect them: I just think I add some useful things, and seem to be able to find things to read on my own.

  3. Kari Morandi Says:

    I’ve created a bookshelf (a suggestion from another reader on goodreads) that says abandoned. I very rarely abandon books, but I find as I get older (and I’m also a copyeditor), some books just do not hold my interest enough to waste my time. I get upset when authors seem to skip the editing step, and just pust it out there — seems to be a problem with self-published books more than major publishers (although I’ve caught a few clunkers in those, also). Rather than being irritated, I just abandon the book.

    That being said, I’ve only abandoned one book in the last couple of years.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kari!

      Gee, that shelf would be empty for me. 🙂 I always find something interesting in any book…but that’s true of all sorts of things for me.

  4. Marlene Says:

    This really has nothing related to today’s article, just random comment. I don’t get to your articles everyday, I love my Kindle, but I have been trying to read a library borrowed copy of Catherine the Great for months now. I find it interesting enough, don’t know why it’s taking me so long :-/ – but I will endeavor.

    Thanks for writing and letting me do so also.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Marlene!

      Don’t worry…very few of the articles go “stale” that quickly. 😉

      Some books simply take longer…there are different “thicknesses” of the writing, for one thing.

      I’m curious, though: how are you able to have a library book for months? Is it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (which doesn’t have a time limit)?

      • Marlene Says:

        About my library loan – I can borrow for 21 days on my Overdrive Ap. There is more than one e copy and I have just been able to renew it several times. I finally got to the part where she is Empress now – and it’s time to renew it again.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Goodreads is okay. I have been using LibraryThing for my book inventory a lot longer and a friend invited me to use goodreads.

    It is a good way to keep up with an author if they are on goodreads. The site also has a larger collection of reviews which can be both good and bad. The spoiler checkbox warning is a nice touch. The book shelves need work. Yes, you can add a shelf but using the shelves is awkward. Or maybe I just prefer the tag method used by LibraryThing.

    LibraryThing handles book entries better when they are either not in the inventory (rare) or have a different ISBN or cover. In my opinion LibraryThing is better for creating a book inventory. It has many other good features I won’t mention here. But if you want a more social interaction with friends and strangers then I recommend goodreads.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Elizabeth!

      Actually, when I looked at the three, I liked Shelfari the best…but there is clearly some subjectivity to this.

  6. Marlene Says:

    Kindle Owners’ Lending Library ??? I did not know this!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Marlene!

      To be eligible to use the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), you need to be an eligible Prime member, and have a hardware Kindle (a Kindle app won’t do, but Kindle Fires count).

      Meeting those conditions, you can borrow up to one book a calendar month from a select set. While that select set may not include a book you would read about in People Magazine, these were the stats when I last took them:

      March 1, 2014: 529,466 (21.5% of the total)

      Books traditionally published by Amazon will be in there: that includes, for example, the original Ian Fleming James Bond books.

      For more information, see

      Borrow Books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (at AmazonSmile)

  7. enodice Says:

    I have been using Goodreads for several years (before the Amazon acquisition). I use it primarily to track what I’ve read and what I want to read. You can easily see your stats (like number of books read or pages read) for the current or previous years. You can also set a goal for the current year.

    To track books I am interested in, I have been adding them to my “to read” folder. This year a created a “to read 2014” folder and moved some of the books I want to tackle this year into that one.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Enodice!

      It’s interesting: I love stats, but don’t really picture using them for my reading. I pretty much read as much as I can, so I wouldn’t feel like “I need to read more to hit this goal this year.” If I’m not reading, there’s a good reason for it…

      As to books I want to buy (or read), I’ve been using an Amazon wish list. I just realized, though, that you can click on a book at goodreads and then go from there to Amazon, so maybe I’ll rethink that.

  8. Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] you who are already Goodreads users, this simplifies things. If you don’t use Goodreads now (I do…you can follow me. I write a little review there on most books I finish), maybe this will get […]

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