11 Alternatives to GoodReads

Goodreads isn't the only place to find books to read.  Here are 11 Alternatives to GoodReads to help you find best selling, inspirational reads -- I'm especially impressed with the last one.
The news of GoodReads’ buyout by Amazon has been good news for some, but discouraging news for many others. As a result of that growing trepidation, many are looking for a new home on the web. Luckily, there are many other book based sites on the web to choose from. Previously overshadowed by GoodReads, these sites are breaking through the noise and coming to the world’s attention.

Here are links, descriptions, and comments on several of the web’s other book community sites:

LibraryThing

Library ThingTim Spalding created LibraryThing in 2005 as a pet project and the site went “pro” in 2006. It is primarily a cataloging or “bookshelf” site, similar in many ways to GoodReads. You can write reviews and find other members who have similar tastes to yours. LibraryThing is a very mature site, having been around for 7 years. They draw from the Amazon API as well as numerous other sources (including the Library of Congress) to provide book information. It has an author program that gets you a special badge on your profile as well as some other perks. It also services libraries, giving them special access to the information contained in LibraryThing to help spruce up their online catalogs.
Type of Site: Bookshelf
Services offered: Catalog your books, write reviews, connect with others through Forums and Groups
Price: Free to join, must be a paying member to “shelf” more than 200 books.
Link: http://www.librarything.com

BookLikes

BookLikesBookLikes describes itself as “The World’s No. 1 Blogging Platform for Book Lovers”, and that is exactly what it is. When you sign up, you are actually signing up for a website hosted through Booklikes and your username will be the first part of the url — something like this: http://username.booklikes.com. There are three website templates to choose from and each has a heavy “bookish” theme to them. One of the pages on your website is a “Bookshelf” and that will graphically list all of the books you have joined on the site. It’s a bit heavy handed, but it’s nice and it works. What you post on your blog is what percolates through the main site. They use the Amazon API and for every book that I saw the only way to get a copy was through Amazon (but that was hardly extensive, having only sampled a few dozen books). There is also a timeline page that tracks what you do, who you friend, books you add, etc. I did not see any forums or groups, but the blog listing is innovative and extensive. The site has a lot of polish and looks and functions well.
Type of Site: Blogging Network
Services Offered: Hosted blog (no widgets or plugins possible), catalog your books, write reviews (via special blog post), easily see and connect with other bloggers on the network
Price: Free
Link: http://booklikes.com

*** Update ***
Dawid, the CEO of BookLikes, contacted me and wanted to clarify that Amazon isn’t the only search engine they use. Members can change their preference in the Settings tab. Changing the Search terms actually changes the purchase location when the book comes up — I found using “Google” in search gave the most purchase options (the purchase link says “Google” but when you click on it, it takes you to a Google Books page with several purchase options on the left hand side). There is also a way for members to include the affiliate store of their choice, so if someone buys a book through their “shelf”, they will get the proceeds.

Bookish

bookishBookish is the collaboration of three major publishers (Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster) as the publishing world’s response to GoodReads. It is their attempt at social. Having joined and toured the site, I wouldn’t call it “social”, as much of the communication is one way (even their blog posts don’t allow for comments as of this writing). It is, however, a very good engine of discovery — type in the title of a book you like and it will spit back a solid list of similar books. Books are only listed through the publishers associated with the site — no indies here. Sales links are direct to the publisher, with a tiny little option for online retailers (don’t miss it). Members can rate a book, but I have yet to find out how to write an actual review. You can have “friends” but I couldn’t find out how to interact with them once you’ve made them.
Type of Site: Book Recommendation Engine
Services Offered: Catalog your books, rate books, get book recommendations through search algorithm.
Price: Free
Link: http://www.bookish.com

*** Update ***
Bookish significantly changed its site in November 2014, and now is much more of a blog style site with articles on books, but no more social features. You can read the details on those changes here.

WattPad

WattpadWattpad is a social writing experience, and is focused on the creation of work and getting feedback on such work. There are books listed on the site — many, actually — but more stories or novellas than anything else. It is free to join and everything on it is free to read, free to post. It has an excellent mobile app. Social interaction is through “Clubs” and messages. It uses @ tags to notify friends, much like Facebook and Twitter do.
Type of Site: Social Writing
Services Offered: Compose work and get feedback, audience building, social interaction
Price: Free
Link: http://www.wattpad.com

Anobii

Anobii“Anobii” is Latin for “bookworm” and it is a “bookshelf” style of site. While the functionality all seems to be there (shelf books, write reviews, participate in forums, etc) the site’s layout makes finding it all difficult. The good news, though, is that according to Anobii’s blog, a major site redesign is underway and it looks very, very good. The bad news is that blog post was made in May 2012 and the site is still the same. It did make the changes to its owner’s site in the UK (eBooks by Sainsbury). Anobii has a mobile app that uses a bar code scanner to look up the information on books you may come across. Right now, it is a functional site. If they get the beta version live, it will be a very nice site.
Type of Site: Bookshelf
Services Offered: Catalog your books, write reviews, connect with others through Forums and Groups
Price: Free
Link: http://www.anobii.com

Shelfari

ShelfariShelfari was founded in 2006 and acquired by Amazon in 2008. It started as a book cataloging site, much like GoodReads, and gradually morphed into a type of IMDB (also owned by Amazon) for books, where users can contribute to significant profiles on books (synopsis, characters, locations in story, cover art iterations, and more), in addition to being able to catalog and rate them. The site is established, polished, and functional. You sign up using your Amazon ID.
Type of Site: BookShelf
Services Offered: Catalog your books, contribute to book information pages, write reviews, connect with others through Forums and Groups
Price: Free
Link: http://www.shelfari.com

BookGlutton

BookgluttonBookGlutton is a social reading website launched in January 2008. Visitors to the website can create virtual book groups, read books online, chat inside chapters and attach notes on paragraphs. For those who remember the old CommentPress, it functions in a similar way, but actually utilizes ePub books (which you can convert on the site) as the medium. If you’ve ever made a note on a Nook or Kindle, you’ll be familiar with the process. The site has a number of books, many public domain works, but newer independent and small press works as well. I didn’t see any books from the Big 6 on the site. They are launching a new service, ReadUps, in Spring 2013 that adds a virtual reading meet-up space to augment their social reading service.
Type of Site: Social Reading
Services Offered: Social Reading, book publishing/sales, book reviews, connect with others through social reading and groups
Price: Free to join
Link: http://www.bookglutton.com

*** Update ***
BookGlutton has closed down operations, and transformed into Readups, which you can see HERE.

WeRead

weReadWeRead started as a Facebook application in 2006 and has grown into a bookshelf style site, similar to GoodReads or LibraryThing but lacking the polish. Members can add books to their virtual bookshelf, write reviews, read books online, take quizzes, and join book clubs. The functionality all appears to be there, but there are numerous coding errors throughout the site, resulting in confusing menus, missing buttons, and an overall unfinished view. It is owned by Flipkart. The site’s last activity is noted as “a few weeks ago” and appears to have been made by a spammer. Reputed to once have 3.1 million members, the site now looks abandoned.
Type of Site: Bookshelf
Services Offered: Catalog your books, contribute to book information pages, write reviews, connect with others through Forums and Groups, read online
Price: Free
Link: http://weread.com

Libib

LibibLibib is a book, movie, and game “bookshelf” type of site. While there are options to “publish” your shelves, my experience with it has been largely personal — you use it to catalog your stuff. Members can provide ratings, reviews, notes, and purchase the books they place on a shelf. There is very little ability to socialize on the site that I could see. Once your account is active, you are taken to your shelves and off you go. For those leaving GoodReads, the site will allow you to upload your book information via CSV file.
Type of Site: Bookshelf
Services: Catalog, rate, and notate your books, movies, and games
Price: Free
Link: http://www.libib.com

The Reading Room

The Reading RoomThe Reading room is another bookshelf style site, where you can catalog and review books, as well as participate in book clubs. The site is a bit bare bones, but all of the functionality appears to be there. In their own words: “We’re not the biggest kid on the block and we’re not perfect but we are constantly improving. We want our site to be a life log of your reading, where you can manage your bookshelf, participate in book clubs, preview sample chapters, read respected book reviews, access all the latest bestsellers and award winners, view author interviews, and buy books through a range of retailers. Most importantly, we want it to be a place where you can be yourself.”
Type of Site: Bookshelf
Services: Catalog, rate, and review your books. Read sample chapters online. Participate in group discussions.
Price: Free
Link: http://www.thereadingroom.com

ThirdScribe

ThirdScribeThirdScribe is our very own book social network for readers, authors, and publishers. It is a book social networking platform that provides book pages, author listings, reviews, author websites, forums, and much more. It has a full social stream allowing for posting links, pics, audio and video. Each book on the site has its own page containing purchase links, its own social stream, forums, reviews, and related books. Members can write reviews on any book and authors can also link their GoodReads and Amazon reviews to each book. You can Sign up now to join.

About Rob McClellan

Rob is the founder of ThirdScribe, a unique author services platform and social network. As a naval officer and diver, he spent a majority of his career doing a lot more than you would think with a lot less than you can imagine -- a skill that has proven extremely valuable in the start-up world. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

17 Responses to 11 Alternatives to GoodReads

  1. Pingback: that goodreads/amazon thing | still on the journey of calling myself home

    • Amazon is the biggest book retailer on the planet, it’s not going to be starved.

      However, I do believe that there are some places on the web that need to be left alone from retailers. How else can you get an honest opinion on something? That, to me, was the biggest issue of the Amazon/Goodreads take over.

      Amazon sells books, Amazon sells advertising — when you control a big chunk of the reviews as well, it doesn’t take much to start linking all of these together. “Want to turn your book into a blockbuster? List with us, advertise with us, and pay us to control the reivew information.” Will that happen? Not today, probably not tomorrow, but it could — and, as the consumer, how would you even know?

  2. Just looked up your “about” page – it is looking good, but I confess I am worried about your “freemium” solution: how much will it cost for readers to join? I presume you have something like LibraryThing in mind (i.e. free for the first x books), so a self interested thought: why not offer free lifetime membership to beta sign-uppers? That would swell your followers crowd…

    • Profile Cover Art

      Paola,

      Thanks for taking the time to learn more about us!

      ThirdScribe will be free for Readers to join. Authors will pay the “freemium” because they receive services that benefit them financially (to help sell their books).

      We are planning a number of promotional efforts to jump start our launch and drive membership, one of which will be lifetime memberships — Ahhh, perhaps I should have waited a bit before announcing that…

  3. Let me introduce you to BooksReel . I am one of the founders of this new initiative. We want to create an IMDB equivalent for books, showing the top and popular books right now based on user votes. BooksReel is also loaded with features you can find in good reads and more. I would encourage you to visit the help section to know more. Do provide your honest feedback on whether this is sustainable.

  4. I looked at all of these and I like Bookish the best. I can’t find the “sign up” feature. Can someone please help me?

  5. Hi all. I currently list all the books i have to read or have read on a spreadsheet. I also make a note of the publication date so I can read books in order for character development. Is there a website/app that will give me the ability to have my list with me at all times so I know what to purchase when I come across a new book. Don’t really need the social aspect. Libib sounds like it might be suitable. Thanks

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