Goodreads: 25m members read just 67,000 books?

Goodreads By the Numbers 2013 inforgraphic

Goodreads posted another infographic on their blog.

Things do not appear what they seem. They never are when statistics are concerned.

25m members

Criticism #1: Goodreads integration on Amazon’s new Paperwhites will have seen more accounts opened.

Criticism #2: The Goodreads Choice Awards received 1.9m total votes – some of these will be from fans that only joined the site to vote.

Criticism #3: There were also more Award categories, and therefore books to vote for, than last year.

Book discoveryCriticism #4: I’m guessing the ‘4 books found’ every second refers to the hideously bad search function. I’d like to know if those found books were the ones the searchers were looking for because at least 20% of the time I click, only to realize it’s the wrong one.

Criticism #5: How many of the 294m books added were part of the enormous data import from Amazon’s databases which created thousands, if not millions, of duplicate and separate editions of books across the board, which they’ve yet to rectify?

Criticism #6: Only 20 million pages were read by 25 million readers? If the average book is 300 pages, then less than 67,000 books were read. Almost 25 million inactive accounts? Perhaps not. Goodreads may have been foiled by their own database here. Audiobooks and ebooks rarely represent the correct number of pages in their records, that’s if page totals have been entered at all. In any case, it shows the growing popularity for digital reading.

Criticism #7: 29 million reviews seems like a drop in the ocean when there are supposedly more than 300 million books in the database. Now I’m wondering if combined books count as one or as many, by including the infinite number of editions of a single book. Hmm.

Big name authors join GR

Criticism #8: This isn’t something to boast about. Here’s why:

  • Stephen King joined in December 2013 and has added exactly one book to his shelves; its unrated with an 8-word review, earning 60 votes. That’s the extent of his participation on GR. He’s doing a little better on Twitter – another social networking site he’s recently joined.

  • Rick Riordan joined in November 2013 and is the only one to have made a concerted effort to participate. He’s read 207 books with 72 reviews, though only 149 are rated and none below 3 stars.

  • Khaled Hosseini actually joined in April 2012, but he’s added 22 books of which 20 have been read, 7 ratings (again, none below 3 stars) and 1 review consisting of 4 words. But he has taken the time to make 540 friends and vote for a book in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

  • Chuck Palahniuk joined in December 2013 and has rated 9 books, none under 4 stars. That’s it.

  • Helen Fielding joined in November 2013 and has been inactive.

Okay, the authors that joined last month may have signed up 5 days ago, but why join the site at all if you’re not going to use it? Unless they’re waiting for their latest book to be published to put on their marketing hats to push, push, push and sell, sell, sell. On the other hand, they’re noobs, Christmas is a busy time of year, and these best-selling authors are people too. I could be expecting too much, too soon.


Criticism #9: This one’s more of a comment than a criticism. I remember reading somewhere that Goodreads is well-known, and used, exclusively for its huge quotes database.

And there you have it; why Goodreads statistics and this infographic are completely useless.


13 thoughts on “Goodreads: 25m members read just 67,000 books?

  1. 294 books added in 2013? I hope they weren’t counting the 30 000 duplicate editions of the final Harry Potter book. They’ve longsince corrected that mistake but I hope they didn’t count that…


    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were counted. I bet someone just pulled stats from the database without bothering to check accuracy. After all, they posted this infographic on New Year’s Day when the world had a hangover and no spare brain power to see through the facade.


  2. I completely agree with the criticism/concern of authors joining for promotion purposes. It especially bothers me because GR makes it about rankings and encourages participation through rankings and the ‘likes’ process–if a popular author with a devoted fan following hiccups, it will generate ‘likes.’ It smacks of marketing/increasing visibility without genuine spirit of participation.


  3. Wonderful post. The only thing I disagree with is your last sentence… that this infographic is useless. I would say it is *very* useful, because it shows what a hollow marketing sham Amazon has made of a once-wonderful bookloving community.


  4. The gr database has become a disaster other than being a catalog for Kindle books. The thing is so screwed up now it is almost useless. None of the books I am currently reading has an accurate entry. And what is the deal with the horrible gr search engine? Even if gr’s search engine was setup to drag you through dozens of Kindle titles before you get to the one you want so they can market these to you, even that doesn’t seem to work. When I search for Thomas Tryon’s “The Other” the first hit I get is “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I have to wander through 8 pages before I get to the Kindle title that is simply “The Other.” Bizarre!


    1. I know. Sometimes I have to go Amazon’s website to search for an ISBN to find something on GR, and even then I don’t always get a match despite being certain it’s in the database.


  5. I, too, found their stats a bit far fetched. Ames, what I find interesting will be the numbers for this year. I have a gut feeling that GR will see a huge drop in numbers. Better sites are cropping up, and I think GR has seen the last of its heyday. I’m not even speaking about the GR refugees. I believe that with more coverage and with more “members”, the quality and the spirit will soon take a nosedive.


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