Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Alternatives to Goodreads I've Used

Are you a Goodreader?

*bangs head hard on the desk for starting out so lamely*

Okay, that came out totally wrong. What I meant was that do you use Goodreads? Erm, that's a dumb question, too. Of course, if you love books to the point that you can almost marry them or you are in a complicated relationship with a fictional character you know can never be yours, you know Goodreads. That's like asking a monkey whether it knows what a banana, or a tree is *exasperatingly hopeless sighs*

I know you got the point.

So I was having a conversation with one of my fewest bookish best friends one day and the topic suddenly came up. She doesn't use Goodreads on a regular basis because it feels too confining to her. She is mainly a reader person who shares her thoughts offline more than online, again because there are too many "rules" to follow when you are sharing your thoughts online. Moreover, it's sad when you sign up for anything and then after a period, you have a strong feeling it's not working. It's normal. It happens. So that friend of mine, I had to convince her for like FOREVER to get her to commit on having a space to share her thoughts exclusively (I can get real stubborn at times, plus I think she can be a great critic). After that conversation, I decided to post my opinions on the sites I have been on and used apart from Goodreads, in case it helps anyone out there (blog or no blog) to decide what to choose:)


Tumblr and Goodreads: Best of Both

The interface is more Tumblr like. On the homepage, you'll see Options such as 'video, text, url, quote, photo' etc, similar to Tumblr. If you've used Tumblr before, you'll find it real easy to get used to this site. The whole site appears more interactive to me.

You can follow, like, reblog other users' content. There is a reading challenge widget, like Goodreads, that you can set and show and also use on your blog/site. On Booklikes, you can add your own posts, be it review or any other bookish rant. You can talk about events, or do a fangirling post about an author or a series or a book you recently read or DNFd, or the latest book to movie adaptation you found awesome:D

When writing a review, you can choose to give a Spoiler warning if your review contains any. If you are cross posting something, you can always mention the source. Like Goodreads, there are default shelves, and you can add a book to a single or multiple shelves created by you too. These shelves also work as tags when you are writing a post/ review. For example, if you shelved a book in an exclusive shelf of yours called '2014 YA Books', it will also appear in 'Last Tags' when you are writing a post. Then like Goodreads again, you can enable sharing your post on Facebook and/or twitter. All these settings come in one sidebar in the post writing page and it's really easy to use. The main posting area is almost as same as Blogger's. It's easier than Goodreads in a way that you don't have to know html tags to write your posts, though they offer an html area. You can just use the options given there to insert a blockquote, make fonts italic, bold or other style. Page breaks and image inserting options are there as well.
The one thing about Booklikes I'm not yet comfortable with is its giveaway. Within the first 2-3 months of signing up, I won two giveaways. Now I AM happy that I have. But it's starting to become a place where users are randomly giving away books or book related stuff, and I've often found information that looks fishy. But the site is growing day by day and I do really hope though, that the scenario changes soon :)

Recently, Booklikes is also offering to add your affiliate purchase accounts on its site. If you are an affiliate member of Amazon, Book Depository, Powell's Books etc, you can save your affiliate link in the 'settings' option and when someone makes a purchase by searching a book from your shelf and then buys it through your affiliate link, you get a commission of the sale. Great isn't it?

This is what is mentioned in the site:
If you are already cooperating with bookstores via Affiliate Programs, paste your ID (IDs) from affiliate program that you're using in a suitable box. Then all books that you put on your shelf and add to your texts and review from these bookstores will use your affiliate ID. This means that if someone clicks and buys a book from your shelf or your review, ALL profit will be transferred directly to you.

Coming to the interface again. At the very beginning, Booklikes used to offer only 3 themes to choose from for your Booklikes blog. The good news is that Booklikes users can now choose from a variety of themes there, thanks to Booklikes and Parajunkee. Parajunkee has designed some really gorgeous themes for Booklikes and those are available for purchase on the site. If you want a unique design of your own, you can also ask Parajunkee whether she would personally design one for you.


The new Pinterest for Book bloggers

Do you use Pinterest? Have you ever? Well, if you do still, then using Riffle would be almost as close as using Pinterest. I don't use Riffle a LOT, but it's definitely a quite different and interesting site to use. Even if  you haven't used Pinterest ever, or if all the sunset photography and food or fashion photos overwhelms you a bit too much (and you are afraid you would get lost in the crowd with only having books to show and pin which I believe to be a myth), you can take refuge in Riffle. Current purchasing options are Amazon, iBooks,  IndieBound and Barnes Noble.

Last time I used, I noticed that you can't take photos and upload them on Riffle, but you can search and add them to your profile and lists, pin the from others, 'like' them. I like the interface. It's not too clumsy or doesn't look overloaded with things. White, clean and simple, I think every reader who like things in order would enjoy their time in Riffle. Here also, books can be marked as 'want to read', 'currently reading' and 'read', you can also leave your review which appears in a comment like layout along with the reviews by others. It's also possible to purchase a book if you want


You can make lists too, that contains books titles, or author, or certain books you would want to enlist (like '2014 books to buy'). I'm sure you can do a lot more, but since I've used it only for couple of weeks and that also to a little extent, I guess there are a lot more than I know. So keep the browsing going.

The Reading Room

Apt name

The Reading Room is literally like a reading room, and to an extent a lot more than that. The home page covers a wide range of topics. You can have a look at your profile in short, view your The Reading Room reading challenge (yes, it's got one of its own as well), see the latest reviews from the members, the latest discussion that's going on  and can also add your comment right from that page, without going to anywhere else. The members can follow each other. You can rate books, create a wishlist, post your reviews, buy a book and so much more! Also, you can read excerpts of a lot of newly released book, which is a great thing according to me. 
You may join or make your own book clubs on this site, select from a variety of bookish deals. There are options to make a Top 10 list ("Top 10 - select the books you love the most from your bookshelf and add them to your Top 10 list.") you can also create other lists, like '2014 Reading List' to help you keep track of your reads. You can get recommendations of books from The Reading Room itself and also recommend books to others, like Goodreads. 

To get to know more about a book, you can look at other reviews as well, and The New York Times and The Guardian reviews are available to read there as well. The site shows how many users have shelved a particular book. Almost similar thing is available on Goodreads but here it's provided directly; once you've clicked on a book for more information you can see it right under the 'Categories' option. And just under that, there is a box provided where you can post your own discussions, reviews and comments. You can create your own tag for the book, just like Booklikes and share your comments/reviews on Facebook.


Good for beginners

I loved LibraryThing, when I had started using it at the beginning of my blogging life. I used to be on Goodreads mainly because of bookish social networking purposes, with the authors and fellow bloggers-readers. But LibraryThing was probably one of the first sites I looked into for books and other stuff. With the passing of time, however, it seems the quality have somehow dropped a little. Now don't get any wrong ideas. It may also be happening because of my country restrictions. I am not able to request ALL the books available there. But still, I rarely log in to that site now. Plus, not to mention the paid membership thing.

You can shelf only 200 books (the last time I checked). To shelf more, you have to buy a membership. Now, like many out there, I'm not willing to buy one, at least not right now. Still if you are just starting your blogging life now, I believe it's a site you may want to have an account at. A good starting point for beginners, I believe :)

In My Opinion:

It's really not that easy to give verdict for anything from an objective point of view. I love Goodreads, I have used Riffle for a while, The Reading Room seems fine, and LT worked as a good starting point for me. But if I am to suggest a fellow reader or a someone who is willing to start blogging about books, upto this point, I would go for Booklikes. After Goodreads, this is the one site that I have been sticking to, and I never felt forcing myself to use it. As a beginner, you don't have to have anything else. Just sign up (totally free) for a Booklikes account. You'll have three pages by default- your timeline, shelf and blog. You don't have to maintain a separate blog and then cross post on your account like in Goodreads (though it has its perks). You can put reviews, participate in blog tour, or simply post your ranting (preferably bookish). Some of my friends who find it a hassle to maintain a blog and another book site account simultaneously have signed up for Booklikes and they seem to like the experience so far.

Have you used any of these sites? What's your experience? Any special preference?
Want to learn more? Read this detailed article on 12 Alternatives to Goodreads.

If you think I can help you with any book/blogging issues, please feel free to ask using the Submit form.

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