Specialist Social Networks – One For The Bookworms
Posted: Thursday 09 August, 2012
My best friend was introduced to Goodreads a few weeks ago by one of her work colleagues who recently had a book published, and being a bookish type I couldn’t wait to get in on the action. I assumed it was a new social network because I hadn’t heard of it, but actually it was launched in January 2007 and has over 9,900,000 members.
Before I created a profile, I was not as interested in connecting to people I know, but rather in finding others around the world that shared my tastes. Luckily, Pete and I are often on the same wavelength when it comes to books (he most recently gave me The City of Bohane by Kevin Barry – I’d give it 8/10) but I can be quite a snob when it comes to accepting a recommendation! I usually cringe when someone recommends to me the type of novel that would appear in the top 100 bestsellers list (apologies Mr Brown and Ms James, but you’ve done ok without me!), so I have been known to have to go into a good bookshop and explain very carefully what I do and don’t like.
Now, though, I hope will be able to find others via Goodreads; people who have read the same books as me, rated them similarly and can offer me some words of wisdom. I’m quite excited about this prospect and if I find the network isn’t quite designed to connect strangers in this way, there are a great selection of groups and discussion boards to get involved with… I wonder if there is a postmodernist/magic realism/dystopia loving group?
It’s really simple to get started on Goodreads by signing in via another social network or creating a log-in with your name and email. You next select your favourite genres, or input ones that aren’t listed, and it then shows you a large selection of books in those categories. I really like how it displays the front covers because it helps you to make an initial judgement on the titles you’ve not read – of course, we all know how the saying goes but novel covers are carefully chosen and I always have opinions on book covers! At this stage, you either give a star rating out of five for the books you have read or there is an option to choose the ones you would like to read; and for each book you’ve read it offers you even more similar titles.
I got a little bored doing this after a while I have to admit but there must still be a hundred other books that I’ll go back and manually find; I think this will be important if I’m going to take advantage of the automatically generated recommendation list feature that is based on my ‘read shelf’. The community recommendation section of the site allows you to request recommendations and also offer them to individuals or to all of your friends. However, if you like to have a bit of fun you can take part in quizzes and if you like being a geek you can brush up on quotes!
Most people would say Facebook, Twitter and Google+ if you asked them to name some social media sites, and perhaps because we tend to be so committed to these networks that we forget what other very useful communities there are out there. Furthermore, they are not only useful in a personal capacity. Just as brands use the ‘big three’ to engage with customers and clients, a site like Goodreads is being used as an effective communications channel by publishers, authors, illustrators and editors.
I challenge you to put your usual online social community on hold for a couple of days and find a new one that is dedicated to one of your interests; a sport, baking, train spotting… I’m off to see if I can find some fellow allotment holders!