I’d been meaning to write a review of Goodreads.com for a number of weeks, although I’d been plagued by the thought that there’s really no point. That’s not to say it defies analysis, lacks quality, or is any way irrelevant, but rather that it is not the definitive book review site, and therefore is not the social book review site I’ve been trawling the web for.
When I reviewed Book Army I was convinced the idea of a social book review site was a great idea, and while Book Army’s execution is perhaps not as tight as it could’ve been, it promised an excellent place to share reviews. Of course there are plenty of other places to read or publish book reviews, some of them social and some of them not, including: the big names such as Amazon or Facebook’s weRead application; the traditional print media such as the New York Times; the genre specific sites, such as the Fantasy Book Review, or SF Reviews; professional review sites, such as BookPage or BookBrowse.com; and the reams of excellent review blogs, such as MostlyFiction or Becky’s Book Review. However, none of them had the combination of presence and social pulse to suggest they might ever become the de facto book review service, and thus none of them has the cachet to catch my interest.
While many of the book review services attract significant numbers of users and reviews, given the number of competing niche services, I’ve slowly realised my goal of finding the definitive service is actually just a misunderstanding on my behalf about what social media is. Although the idea of publishing reviews on more than one service was an anathema to me, it gradually occurred to me I’ve been baulking at the fundamental principle of social media, which is you need to mix communities if you want a diverse and healthy social network. And of course, there’s also never been a definitive source of book reviews, so after weeks of kicking around thinking all these social book review sites were inadequate, it turns out the inadequacy was in me. Oh well, Goodreads.com here I come.