Goodreads By The Numbers 2014 Predictions

Goodreads By the Numbers 2014 Predictions

So yesterday I criticized the hugely misleading infographic Goodreads posted on New Year’s day, otherwise known as International Hangover Day, and Lyn’s comment inspired me make some predictions for the site in 2014.

25m members

If we follow the pattern, by the end of 2014 there could be 50 million members, or close to it. I do think this is possible with Goodreads integration on the new Paperwhite which will probably be made available to all Kindles and Kindle PC via a software upgrade by the end of the year. However, I do believe activity and time spent on the site will decrease significantly. This is a screenshot of the Alexa rankings for Goodreads taken today, for future comparison.

At least 2.4 million votes will be cast in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. The number of votes seem to increase by about 600,000 every year. There will also be more categories and more books to vote for. And of course, some GR accounts will be opened for the exclusive purpose of voting and nothing more.

Book discoveryAh, the search function. What’s the likelihood that this will be fixed by the end of the year? Years of requesting just that has resulted in it becoming worse. I doubt any satisfactory improvements will be made.

The only way Goodreads could top the 294 million books added (from Amazon’s databases and creating thousands, if not millions of duplicate records) is if they imported historical book records from national repositories not yet on their source list to represent works now available via Google Books, the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg.

However, as gumbywan pointed out, given that GR have yet to clean up the mess from the import which has corrupted data in previously highly accurate records, and the many, many disgruntled librarians (unless Goodreads hire a raft of paid librarians) and fix the search function, the book database is unusable to those looking for accurate data and affliate links to retailers that work based on that data.

I’m not touching the number of pages read as there’s no way to predict it when it wasn’t quoted in 2012’s infographic.

9 million reviews were written in 2013 (29m total in 2013 – 20m total in 2012 = 9m) so it’s possible the total on the site could rise to 38m reivews by the end of 2014. This is highly dependent on how many Kindle customers become active reviewers and how many disenchanted members stop reviewing, although the blog link drop reivews will likely still be counted in the final total.

Big name authors join GR

How many superstar authors do you think GR could nab? People like J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown and George R.R. Martin would be a real coup. On the other hand, as I’ve said before, they don’t usually fully participate by adding books, writing reviews or interacting with other members. So while it’s great publicity for Goodreads, possibly enticing a few poor souls to join GR, it’s not necessarily a measure of success.


Members are look to be on track to like 11.6 million quotes in 2014 (10m in 2013 – 8.4m in 2012 = 1.6m + 10m).

2014 is a make or break year for Goodreads. Ample broken features, site stability issues and irritating bugs on top of the catastrophic corruption of the book database (previously their unique selling point), the controversial policy changes in 2013, the increasing number of trolls and Badly Behaving Authors using countless sock puppets, are things Goodreads are going to have to seriously address to remain a viable option for book lovers with sites like BookLikes and Leafmarks attracting many a GR refugee.

If Leafmarks gets the funding they will soon become a very serious competitor by the end of 2014, if the sign up rate – based on word-of-mouth alone – was anything go by. My own posts on LM have been viewed a few hundred times and it’s only just passed its 1-month anniversary, so there is plenty of interest to justify this prediction.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have anything to add?


12 thoughts on “Goodreads By The Numbers 2014 Predictions

  1. My prediction is that GR will follow – to a lesser extent – the Facebook route. The vast majority of FB users are barely active, posting once or twice a month. There will be a user peak, and then the stats will stabilize, and even start to drop.

    In addition, I venture a prediction that the new users that GR is attracting will primarily not be active and avid book lovers. Extremely active/avid readers are a finite resource, and would likely have found GR on their own long pre-integration (at least the US population). The integration is more likely to bring content consumers but not content contributors.

    My further prediction is that GR will do nothing about sock puppets and/or BBAs. Every sock puppet is a stat booster and a “new user” regardless of the quality, quantity or actuality of their participation. They are all about generating favorable stats right now.


    1. I want your first prediction to be true but I’m not sure if it’s wishful thinking for it to happen so quickly. I definitely believe that GR will reach its peak and stabilize by the end of this year, and then a numbers drop in 2015.

      I wholeheartedly agree with your second prediction. I indirectly and not so explicitly mentioned it with, ‘I do believe activity and time spent on the site will decrease significantly.’

      I agree with your third prediction as well. Numbers are everything now, to justify the Amazon investment dollars at the very least. Even if they weren’t interested in the stats, I still think they wouldn’t remove the socks. GR’s customer service is less and less responsive these days. They don’t care.


  2. If Goodreads wants to make it, they need to stop sticking their head in the sand. You pointed out some very real issues. Even without alienating users in the formula, GR has a hot mess on their hands. They’re playing in the big leagues now, and have yet to act like pros.

    I’m happy that I could provide some food for thought. This made my day. 🙂


  3. I’m wondering if gr is going to start having a demographic problem like facebook is staring to have if somebody comes up with a more “hip” product. I guess readers may not be the ultimate in “cool” consumers though. I have three daughters that have all pretty much stopped using facebook regularly and have moved largely to tumblr and some other social networking sites. facebook definitely is staring at a demographic problem as kids now consider facebook to be mom and dad’s and grandma’s social network now and as the kids age they will not tend to go back to the old platforms.


    1. I’m not sure. Books appeal to a different sort of subgroup while facebook is supposedly for everyone. Most of the ego-driven social networks like gr are a different animal. People don’t create accounts for the same reason. One of the reasons facebook is starting to be shunned, besides its just being uncool now, is people don’t like to be tagged all the time. Say you were a kid and in some “uncool” place that you liked with a bunch of your geek friends but didn’t want to get ribbed about it by your cool friends. Well, somebody takes a photo, not you, and someone else sees it and tags you. Now everyone knows what you didn’t want everyone to know. Anybody that recognizes you can tag you in a photo. This is just one bad scenario, you can imagine others.

      I’m just thinking somebody has to be able to come up with a better mouse trap (or the same mouse trap) minus the censorship aspect. The problem is the business model will have to be different as well since, at least initially, you will only have readers not authors on board. This might not be such a bad thing since from experience with gr most authors add little relevant content, mostly interfere with the real conversation, stifle creativity in the community, and really just want to be a part of gr to flog their product. I would actually like to see a site that has only to do with readers connecting to each other and nothing to do with writing. People can get that elsewhere if they want it.

      I would Kickstart this thing and then rely on user voluntary support, like Wikipedia does. Emphasize independents more, publishers and book sellers. Have the community build the db (librarians), hardcore users love this.

      Leafmarks might get there but I think they jumped a little too soon. They should have debugged more and beta-ed browser compatibility more before launch.

      I’ve babbled enough now I think…


  4. While I like booklikes and will add this to the sites I visit, Goodreads will remain my main place I use for books. As far as their “censorship” I agree with what they are doing. When I look for a book review, I couldn’t care less if you like the authors lifestyle or personal views. Go post that on a political blog. Complaining about Goodreads doing that is a good way to get me to ignore anything you have to say.


    1. I don’t think censorship is an issue anymore because it appears they’ve stopped deleting reviews, although they have alienated their most active and prolific reviewers.

      The issues now are structural, based on functionality. Search doesn’t work properly and the book database has been corrupted so you can’t rely on things like book descriptions or ISBNs/ASINs being correct. There’s more about that here:


    2. But that was always in the site TOS; you never were allowed to attack an author or anyone else in reviews or any other content. No hate speech, no attacks, etc. And reviews just predominantly about author behavior were always removed from public view and excluded from ratings (reviewer just still had their content rather than have it destroyed)–admittedly usually only noticed after someone flagged it to support’s attention.

      What was actually done was to say in a thread in a forum to which less than 1% of site members belonged that they were reversing staff reassurances that members could catalog their books on any shelf names not violating TOS. That any content about authors was now being deleted. they were deleting objectionable shelf names then deleting even edited to be innocuous shelf names because they contained books by certain authors that were currently getting excellent exposure on the blogosphere making bad pr for amazon who was seeking kindle sales based on the new goodreads integration to kindle.

      The only content solely about author behavior getting deleted was content negatively about specific authors currently generating bad pr (a sad punchline being that those same authors had been previously banned from goodreads for attacking other members, attempting to manipulate ratings with sockpuppets, and other TOS violations).

      One site from a pedophile who threatened a goodreads reviewer with publicizing pictures, school and schedules for her children (and followed through) had a list of “offending reviewer” and a lot of us on goodreads watched in horror as the exact same order on that list was the exact same order in which shelves and reviews were being removed. Gee, how coincidental. (Yes, the site saw a lot of traffic and a lot of publicity from various author and author sites.) But just a coincidence as surely amazon was not just mollifying that group of bullies.

      Now that the blogosphere exposure has turned into a lot of recanting or just disappearing with a whimper publicity and major holiday device sales are over, gee, goodreads is sorry for overreacting and is actually restoring the shelf names now and not deleting anything any more.

      Of course, the fact that all the members reassured by staff (okay, some staff responses I would even interpret as encouraging them) that now that they cannot shelve books on those offensive shelves like “do not want to read” “taa” “Hormel” that they could instead use the star ratings to express their interest in a book are now starting to get nasty emails or outright account deletions over using the star rstings to express their interest in books … Blech, yeah right, I’m sure they are just getting rid of useless reviews attacking authors.

      It’s a bit funny how as departing reviewers import their data files from goodreads that those same bullying group of banned authors pursue them to other sites and make posts about how the new sites are utter frauds because no one can read and review that many books so quickly. (Okay, maybe that’s only funny to me because I’ve moved data from usenet to book Collectorz, to Visual Bookshelf, to Shelfari, to LibraryThing and then to goodreads and it did look like I reviewed more than 10,000 books in one day — those authors kept commenting on my reviews attacking me for fake reviews, pm’ing me, etc. on goodreads but at the time, all I had to do was flag to goodreads support and they were shut down. How times have changed.)

      My reviews are not on goodreads. I never bashed an author in a review beyond noting copyediting was badly needed.


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