Leafmarks – the Goodreads replacement?


Leafmarks home page

Leafmarks is the 3-week-old book social networking site I was referring to in my Disenchantment & Bitterness post:

However, I’ve been invited to try a shiny new website born of the ashes of Goodreads, founded and developed by its (former) members. I’ve joined and have been pleasantly surprised at how much better it appears than Libib (well, it is supposed to be GR-like but without the censorship) and yet I’m only the 21st member. As it’s “just out of beta and in the very early stages”, to quote the email I received, I won’t detail it further until I know I have permission to spread the word.

P.S. My cynical self is looking at the burst of optimism in my last paragraph and frowning. Sigh.

My invitation came from Emily May (GR profile), one of the two founders.

This is my Leafmarks profile.

When I joined on the 17th December it was still a little buggy, and now that there’s been an influx of new members importing thousands of books at once, the site has been struggling to meet demand.

People may be disappointed at how basic it is right now but I’d urge you all to stick with it for now because when we all migrated to BookLikes the site was over 2 years old, having been founded in June 2011 and opened to the public in May 2013.

And while I’m enjoying the interactivity on BookLikes, I’m missing the cataloguing and user-curated data (librarians) once available on Goodreads.

Leafmarks has the potential to be everything Goodreads was and more.

To quote one of emails from Jacquie Mak Sakata, one of the founders, on December 18th:

Also yes, I plan to add librarian features soon, first probably cover uploading, descriptions, etc. And private message too.

She’s incredibly responsive to feedback and bug reports, once replying just 35 minutes after I hit the ‘send’ button.

Leafmarks is by far the closest you’ll get to the Goodreads experience with a clean and user-friendly interface, missing from the old fashioned LibraryThing, and you can tell just by using it what type of features will be available in the future, given time to further develop the site.

My only concern is that Amazon will turn around and sue Leafmarks for its similarity to Goodreads, the very thing us GR refugees all crave. I suppose this will be determined by how successful Leafmarks will become and how Goodreads fares after multiple public relations and customer care failures.

Only time will tell.

ETA: Given Amazon’s track record, they’ll probably make an offer to buy LM before they’d try to sue. Differences will evolve over time and as Debbie points out, they just need to come up with a few unique features, perhaps ones GR refugees have been longing for.

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*Cross-posted on BookLikes

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16 thoughts on “Leafmarks – the Goodreads replacement?

  1. There is very little Amazon can do to “sue” leafmarks. Look at things like browsers (there are actually dozens), existing social networking sites, etc. Literally thousands of e-commerce sites mimic Amazon now. They are all usually built on the shoulders of earlier incarnations: MySpace to facebook to tumblr to Pinit to Soundcloud. All these started on a platform similar to the one they eventually replaced or currently compete with. If leafmarks gets big enough they can always play the monopoly card and by then they’ll have their own deeper pockets.

  2. I wasn’t involved in or even aware of the GoodReads debacle before a friend reviewed Off-Topic, probably because I only used the site asocially, to write reviews and keep a list of my read books. I barely noticed when it was bought by Amazon.

    I’ve since made a BookLikes account and I am really enjoying it. If a book I read isn’t there, I add it. I love that it has a blog on which you can write your own nonsense in the midst of straight-up reviews. It could use a search function for “my books”, and it’s annoying how every book page tends to link to Amazon just to remind us this is a commercial venture, but other than that I’m really pleased. On the other hand, I would love to be with a reader-made, fresh site. I wouldn’t even mind bugs, but I know I won’t use it if it’s not as much fun as BookLikes.

    So, I’m curious – does LeafMarks have a personal blog aspect like BookLikes, and some system of distinguishing between reviews and blog posts? That’s really BL’s main draw. I can’t tell from the main page, because there’s no tour or sample page attached, and clicking on a book or a reviewer’s profile leads to pages that show no activity – I’m guessing either a bug or a privacy feature.

  3. I think the most important thing Leafmarks could do to stay (become) viable is to adopt a subscription model, i.e. pay-as-you-go, perhaps $25/year at least. (LT is $25 lifetime and that has provided a measure of insulation from financial pressures.) That model provides the developers with enough money to have a strong site without the pressures to develop a way to make money to support their efforts, i.e. advertising, dependence on Amazon, etc. There’s a lot of potential here, and I wish them well. One of the interesting results of the GR debacle is how few people have totally cut their ties with GR. Almost all of the most vocal, despite moving some reviews, etc. to BL and other places, have remained quite active on GR. I fear the number of actual account deletions was very, very small, hardly enough to send any kind of message.

    • Eric, I’d definitely be willing to pay that. If GR had moved to a subscription model 18 months ago I would’ve gladly paid that and more per year, and I’m not exactly rolling in money. For me, it would’ve been great value. And I’d be happy to support them by using any affiliate links they add for retailers.

      You’re right about the account deletions although I have noticed a drop in activity, especially from the most popular reviewers, and a sort of homogenized and not-quite-so-interesting update feed which I rarely look at now.

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  5. Hi – please, do you know of a site which enables ones to keep track of the books one reads, including grading them, WITHOUT that grading being picked up and amalgamated with other grades? I want to be able to grade a book by whether I liked it, it’s my type of thing, I want to read more by that author etc. as opposed to whether it is objectively a good book. I hate that if I mark a book down because it is something I don’t like (as a reminder to myself not to fall for it again) that mark affects the book’s grade.

    Thanks!

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