GoodReads, as many of you know, is a site that allows people to keep track of the books they’ve read, to rate them and review them, to make lists of books they want to read and generally to connect with other readers. It’s a pretty cool site, and I like how people with similar tastes in books can find each other, no matter where they live. It’s an international book club, which is wonderful.
There are some things about GoodReads, though, that you might not know. I’m guessing that there’s one of you who doesn’t know this particular thing: whoever creates a book file on GoodReads is the only one who can change or update it.
Let’s backtrack a bit. Individual books don’t just magically appear on GoodReads. The file for the book has to be created. Once upon a time, these files were probably created by publishers, and maybe later by authors, so it made sense to essentially “lock” the file and only allow the one who created it to edit it later. Now, of course, many people can create book files. This is great, because it keeps the database updated. It’s not so great when there are mistakes in the file.
For example, every time I announce a new Dragonfire book, someone creates a GoodReads file for it. Undoubtedly, this person believes he or she is being helpful and is acting out of enthusiasm, and I appreciate that very much. The problem is that I have no access to that file, because I didn’t create it. That’s how Goodreads works. So, if we look—just for example—at the file someone has created for Firestorm Forever, we can see why that might create issues.
Immediately, you’ll notice that it has the placeholder file for the cover reveal instead of the actual cover. In fact, I can’t add the real cover to update the listing because I didn’t create the listing in the first place. You’ll also see that my name is spelled incorrectly. I can’t fix that either. Because of the misspelling (and because I didn’t create the file) the book is also not linked to my book list or profile, which means that someone looking at my list of books – or for my next one – won’t see this title. The listing is also not linked to the Dragonfire series, and doesn’t include the volume number. This keeps it from popping up for lots of readers who are already reading Dragonfire. A lot of the functionality Goodreads offers to readers in terms of finding books has been short-circuited here because this listing is unlinked.
These issues will only increase. I won’t be able to add the print edition, or update the cover copy if it changes, or add the ASIN from Amazon.
I can’t create a second book file with the right information and under my control, because GoodReads tracks by ISBN, and this listing includes the ISBN – GR will reject a new listing with a duplicated ISBN.
So, while I appreciate that someone took the time and the trouble to create the GoodReads listing for my book, understanding how GR manages data reveals how this creates some challenges. I’ve asked the GR librarians to either fix the file or give me permission to do so. Chances are pretty good that they won’t do either, because that’s not how GR works. So, if you are the person who created this file, perhaps you could contact me so we can get it updated together. 🙂 Thanks!