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16/09/2020 20:01:37  

After years of complaints from users, Goodreads' reign over the world of book talk might be coming to an end. From a report: Goodreads started off the way you might think: two avid readers, in the mid-Noughties, wanting to build space online for people to track, share, and talk about books they were reading. Husband and wife Otis and Elizabeth Chandler say they initially launched the platform in 2007 to get recommendations from their literary friends. But it was something many others wanted, too: by 2013, the site had swelled to 15 million users. That year Goodreads it was bought by Amazon, an acquisition Wired magazine called "quaint", given Amazon's roots in bookselling before it became the store that sold everything. Even then, many Goodreads users already felt stung by the tech giant which had, a year earlier, changed the terms of its huge books dataset (which Goodreads used to identify titles). Goodreads had been forced to move to a different data source, called Ingram; the move caused users to lose large amounts of their reading records.Z Most stuck with it, however -- not because of the platform itself, but because of its community. Writing in the Atlantic in 2012, Sarah Fay called Goodreads "Facebook with books," and argued that "if enough contributors set the bar high with creative, funny, and smart reviews it might become a force of its own." While newspapers mourned the decline of reading and literature, Goodreads showed that a large and growing number of people still had a real passion for books and bookshops. Thirteen years after the first Kindle was sold, printed books have more than ten times the market share of ebooks, but talking about books happens much more online. But now, for many, the utopia Goodreads was founded to create has become closer to purgatory. Goodreads today looks and works much as it did when it was launched. The design is like a teenager's 2005 Myspace page: cluttered, random and unintuitive. Books fail to appear when searched for, messages fail to send, and users are flooded with updates in their timelines that have nothing to do with the books they want to read or have read. Many now use it purely to track their reading, rather than get recommendations or build a community. "It should be my favourite platform," one user told me, "but it's completely useless."

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