Coincidentally, perhaps, I was invited to join Goodreads today by another bibliophile friend, and I prefer it to Shelfari. Writes Goodreads founder Otis Chandler on the website’s “About” page:
[Goodreads] is a place where you can see what your friends are reading and vice versa. You can create “bookshelves” to organize what you’ve read (or want to read). You can comment on each other’s reviews. And on this journey with your friends you can explore new territory, gather information, and expand your mind.
In general, Goodreads’s design is more sophisticated than Shelfari’s. The first time I visited Shelfari, I felt like I was on Friendster, circa 2002. Shelfari’s default “shelves” read like a cross between an ownership inventory, gift registry, and personal “bestseller” list. In short, it appears that it was created for social networking because the shelves were not labeled with a habitual reader in mind.
The default “shelves” on Goodreads are more intuitive. As anyone who calls him or herself a reader will tell you, there is a pile of books somewhere in the house, or a list of those books, at least, that he or she wants to get to. On Goodreads, the “to-read” shelf is a default tag, as is “currently-reading.” And there’s a place to record when the reader finishes the book. The site just seems more tailored to a reader. Finally, the Amazon infiltration isn’t as blatant on Goodreads because a book’s profile page contains links to several online retailers — not just Amazon. Ha. No more vertical monopoly! Or whatever.
So, check out the Goodreads widget (there actually was a typo in the HTML code of the Goodreads-provided widget that took me about 15 minutes to figure out….) at the bottom of the left column to see what I’m reading.