Should Book-lovers Be Boycotting Goodreads?

Amazon may spell disaster for the book industry, but giving up its popular app, Goodreads, isn’t necessarily the answer. 

A few days ago I was informed by Goodreads that I have completed 82% of my reading challenge for the year. And this email prompted me to think about the platform.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has certainly been one winner who has profited from the crisis — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. So far, he has made $24 billion just during the crisis, and there have been numerous calls within the book community to boycott Amazon for good — and in some respects, rightly so. It’s been years since I purchased a physical book from Amazon, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pry myself away from Goodreads.

Goodreads was required by Amazon in 2013 and has over 90 million users worldwide. It’s the only widely used social media for everything literature related which allows users to track their reading, browse book reviews and gain specific genre recommendations. It is also widely relied upon by authors who claim it can make or break the success of a newly published book.

Although some alternatives are beginning to emerge to challenge the hegemony of the platform, such as Booksloth, will it ever diminish in its power and influence? And should it?

During the pandemic, I’ve found myself not just reading more, but reading more book reviews and about books, I potentially want to read. I’ve become heavily reliant on Goodreads to not only track my reading but to find new titles and share my own reviews. 

In the light of Amazon’s unrivalled success and unethical practices, should book-lovers be abandoning Goodreads altogether? Perhaps not, and perhaps it’s more complex than that.

I’ve had a Goodreads account since 2013 when I was just fourteen and beginning to discover the wonder of books. Since then, I have used it to generate a huge list of books I want to read — it is my online To Be Read (TBR) list that I couldn’t live without. Granted, I could do this by hand, but it is much easier to keep track of with the Goodreads system — and you have access to it anywhere.

If I were to abandon the platform, I would either have to transfer the entire contents of my TBR list to another platform which would be hell, or start a new one altogether and mourn the 261 titles that I have built up over the years. 

For me, it acts as a little time capsule of my reading journey over the years and one which I really wouldn’t want to lose.

Controversially, I also love that anyone can review a book on the platform and value how open the platform is. As an author, I can understand that this could be worrying, but users shouldn’t only rely on the reviews of books to decide whether they want to read it. 

Image: Image: @katstokes_ via Uplash 

I actually read more reviews after I’ve finished a book than before. Goodreads makes it so easy for normal people to post their thoughts and responses to books they’ve read and I think it’s valuable for this alone.

Additionally, as a book reviewer who has a book blog, Goodreads is essential for promoting my own work and the books I have read. The interface runs smoothly with my blog and across my socials, and it may seem trivial and possibly selfish, but I wouldn’t want to give it up, and I know many other book bloggers wouldn’t either. 

Lastly, to truly boycott Amazon, users shouldn’t give up Goodreads, but buying things from Amazon altogether.

However, there are inevitable downsides. Being a user of Goodreads, you are inadvertently supporting an unethical company that can also be detrimental to the independent bookselling industry. However, Amazon is already taking over the world and can an abandonment of Goodreads alonereally prevent this? It’s unlikely. 

Like every rating system, the Goodreads one is subjective. One person will have a different interpretation of what 3 stars entails from another, and this could be made clearer. However, it would be almost impossible to enforce, as how can you regulate individual subjectivity?

No-one can doubt the rise of Amazon, its potential danger to workers and the environment, and its unrivalled wealth within the Jeff Bezos empire. However, boycotting Goodreads alone will not be enough. 

Goodreads provides a space to formulate a reading community of people from all over the world, united by the common love of books and reading. It may not be perfect, but it’s the one form of social media I don’t walk away from feeling more negative after using. It acts as a time-capsule for my reading habits past and present, and I’d be very sad to give it up.

Do you use Goodreads? If not, why? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Jnana Hodson says:

    It’s a dilemma, yes. As an ebook reader, you have alternatives to Amazon, as you note. For an author, those other sites offer higher royalties, so I hope you encourage others to follow your example.
    Amazon’s print-on-demand option has allowed me to finally see my novels in paper editions, for those readers who prefer physical copies. It really does shift the perception of a work.
    The Goodreads site does allow indie authors more opportunities to be discovered, I believe. For young writers like yourself, let me suggest carving a niche as someone who finds and celebrates a stream of writing that others are overlooking. What are you passionate about and think others would love, too?
    Best wishes in your literary life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. violetdaniels97 says:

      Yes, there’s definitely positives and negatives to Goodreads, but what I like about the platform is that it gives more up and coming authors a chance to get noticed. And ordinary people, like myself, can help the book do well through posting reviews and things. Thank you for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon says:

    I have felt the same and I did briefly try to stop using goodreads when it was taken over by amazon but I find it an invaluable resource for researching new titles to read. I have boycotted Amazon itself since just before they toook over goodreads and continue to do so and urge others to join me. I used to buy from bookdepository and amazon bought that too which really annoyed me. I know I end up paying more for my books by boycotting amazon but I can never justify buying from that unscrupulous and unethical company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. violetdaniels97 says:

      Yes, it’s so diffiuclt, in an ideal world I wouldn’t support Amazon in any way, I don’t buy physical books from them but I do use my Kindle from time to time and if I’m not sent e-ARC’s I do buy from them sometimes. But I love Goodreads and don’t know if I could give it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon says:

    And just checked out booksloth thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To me, the situation is more one of our materialistic culture and where it is taking us.

    In the past we had only ‘traditional’ publishing, where books were filtered through the eyes of agents and publishers — businesses that are for the most part focused on profit, the more the merrier given our cultural inculcation. This gateway does a good job of ensuring presentable books (professional editing, artwork, layout), and has tentacles throughout the book promotion middlemen. The downside is the filtering of books based in good part on profitability, i.e. what the gatekeepers think will sell best in the near future, not necessarily what is meaningful, quality writing. The gatekeepers choices are, of course, grounded in what they think appeals to the most readers, so the bulk of the reading public is as much accountable for the choices.

    Enter the new publishing arena, where anyone can write and publish most anything, regardless of how well written, edited, and presented. Now the reading public has many more books to chose from, so many in fact that in the quagmire a good number of books go largely undiscovered. Freedom of expression is now facilitated, hurray, but with a downside akin to what one finds on social media. And, needless to say, big business is still fleecing both authors and readers, and controlling much of the promotion. As an example, the paperback version of my own book is priced at $32.00US of which my take home royalty is $1.20. Granted, the book is color printed because of the included illustrations, but Amazon sets a minimum retail price which ensures that they get a hefty cut and the author/publisher covers the printing cost in their royalty. I’m not singling out Amazon, but rather the manipulative excesses of our materialistic culture with its trash heap pyramid scheme economic model. Presently, I’m preparing to go through another POD service for a hardback version of my book, and not finding the situation noticeably different, and there is the added hefty cut the big business retail outlets will take.

    I buy books from a range of retail outlets to encourage more competition, and when I can, acquire free public domain books from sites such as LibriVox. If an author choses to enroll their book in a KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited type offering, I wait until they change their mind. Such is but another controlling aspect of big business to garner greater profits at the expense of authors and readers.

    I’ve been reading extensively and eclectically for three quarters of a century, and these days commonly have to search long and hard for books I might find interesting. I don’t discriminate as to whether a book is self or traditionally published, and have found good books in both albeit with near equal effort. To me, “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. ” ― Edwin Schlossberg.

    So, should readers be boycotting Goodreads? Goodreads is pretty much the only social platform I frequent anymore, and with their subscriber base is a considerable help in searching for books I might find interesting. That doesn’t necessitate buying books from Amazon, as there are other retail outlets and sources. Increasing the competition in also frequenting other like up-and-coming sites might help, but I doubt boycotting Goodreads would be effective unless Amazon becomes even more blatantly self-serving in controlling Goodreads.

    Liked by 1 person

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