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The ultimate battle of bookish social media: Goodreads or The Storygraph?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The infamous platform Goodreads has dominated the social media world of reading and all things bookish since its creation in 2006. Boasting over 90 million users, Goodreads is often hailed as the social media platform for all booklovers, with influencers on Booktube and Booktok joining the platform and sharing their best and worst reads as a means of connecting with fans. Although Goodreads has inevitably been a force for good in cultivating an online book community of readers from all parts of the world, its long-standing reputation has since come under scrutiny, as the platform was bought by Amazon in 2013.

From a platform which once had the primary intention of connecting readers worldwide, Goodreads has since become shrouded in advertisements. While Goodreads’ ownership is not the most noticeable feature of the website, users can still be led down the Amazon rabbit hole once they have clicked the ‘Get Copy’ button on a book’s page. Although I have fully jumped on the bandwagon of trying to support Jeff Bezos as little as possible, especially when purchasing books, I still respect Goodreads’ attempt to signpost alternative sources for buying books. The ‘Online Stores’ button produces a dropdown list of other places you can spend your money, such as Abebooks – one of the biggest online marketplaces for second-hand books.

However, for those who want to avoid the platform entirely in a bid not to aid Amazon’s growth into an even greater online giant, you’re in luck! The Storygraph, a similar platform to Goodreads in which readers can track their reading progress, leave reviews, follow their friends and receive recommendations, is gaining popularity. Founded by Nadia Odunayo, The Storygraph was released as a beta-site in 2019 but has quickly become the new bookish internet phenomenon over the past three years. Its growth was largely exacerbated by the pandemic, with more people than ever turning to reading as a mode of escapism during a seemingly-dystopian time, or even just as a way to fill dead time. In fact, the platform gained over 20,000 new users in just three days during the pandemic, a staggering amount considering their 1000 users at the time of the official app launch in January 2021.

While having variety in how we track our reading progress and engage in book-related discussions opens up new realms of possibility, too much choice can be confusing, and the Goodreads versus The Storygraph debate has taken the bookish community by storm. Should readers stick to the traditional Goodreads platform they know and love despite its contentious ownership? Or should they take a chance on the newcomer, The Storygraph?

so… what’s the difference?

In some ways, Goodreads and The Storygraph are incredibly similar. Both platforms use the same activity feed feature, where you can see what users you are following are currently reading, and how much progress they’ve made. They also both showcase the most popular books on the platform and allow you to mark these as a ‘want to read’ (in Goodreads’ case) or a ‘to read’ (for The Storygraph). However, what has been most noticeable for me, as a user of both platforms, is their different focuses. In other words, Goodreads prioritises the activity of users whom the reader follows, while The Storygraph puts the reader themselves first.

While Goodreads primarily aims to keep you notified about the progress of those you’re following, The Storygraph has exclusive features which allow the platform to be easily personalised to your needs and interests. When signing up to The Storygraph, users are asked to update their preferences, which include everything from your favourite genres to your most-loved tropes and pet peeves. This data is then used to make personalised book recommendations for you, meaning you are never at a loss for where to turn next! After leaving a book review, you can also select the overall moods which best fit the book, which helps The Storygraph recommend your current read to other users worldwide.

The Storygraph also has a unique ‘buddy read’ feature, where yourself and a friend can read the same book at the same time. Once a buddy read is set up, you are given access to a joint discussion board to share your thoughts as you read together. There’s no need to be afraid of spoilers either, as your friend’s comments remain locked until you reach the same page as them in the book! After recently participating in a buddy read, I found myself motivated to continue reading and striving to unlock the hidden comments, eager to find out what happens next.

The Storygraph doesn’t just take spoilers seriously either. When leaving a review, you can select any trigger warnings which may apply to the book, which helps to keep other readers safe and prepared for any sensitive content. The platform’s acknowledgement of the different paces of books also allows you to stay out of reading slumps by providing suggestions for works with more fast-paced plots, making your yearly reading goal that much easier to reach.

One of my personal favourite features of The Storygraph is the star rating system. In comparison to Goodreads, which allows you to only rate a book per whole star, The Storygraph allows you to be rate books by 0.25 increments of a star; instead of a book being rated 4 stars on Goodreads and you feeling it to be inaccurate, it can be rated 3.75 stars on The Storygraph. Not only can you be more precise in your reviews, but your reflection on how much you enjoyed your current read becomes that much more valuable. 

Although The Storygraph is highly customisable and undeniably puts all booklovers at its forefront, Goodreads is still so widely used. Students may benefit more from using Goodreads simply because of its quote search function. Under the ‘Community’ tab, users can easily search for quotes from any book by typing in the author’s name or book title – a huge timesaver during my English A-Level. The well-respected and popular platform also attracts the interest of famous authors, meaning that as a Goodreads member, you can often access exclusive interviews with your favourite writers.

Aside from their differing priorities and features, one of the most explicit differences between the platforms is their end of year reports. Both platforms allow you to set a goal of how many books you’d like to read by the end of the year, to motivate you and hold you accountable. However, your yearly insight into your reading habits and reviews looks vastly different on each platform. 

Each year, Goodreads releases a ‘My Year in Books’ report, detailing how many pages and books you read, your shortest and longest reads and your average review ratings. If you’re looking for a quick overview of your yearly round up, Goodreads is your best bet, as it keeps the report short and sweet. However, The Storygraph goes above and beyond. 

Presented in a range of colourful graphs and pie charts, The Storygraph yearly review reveals the most common moods and pace of the books you read, allowing you to see your reading habits and preferences at a glance. You can also discover whether your tendencies lean more towards fiction or non-fiction, as well as your most-read genres. What is most unique about The Storygraph’s yearly round-up, though, is its recognition of different reading formats, with one graph dedicated to showing the numbers of audiobooks, eBooks and physical books you read in a year – after all, the act of reading remains the same on every format, and whichever your preferred medium, they all contribute towards your yearly reading goal!

To top off their yearly report, The Storygraph reveals your most read authors of the year, and presents a scatter graph of your reading tendencies throughout the year, identifying where you may have put reading on the backburner in certain months, and went through a binge-reading phase in another. It can certainly be said that The Storygraph lives up to its name with its detailed annual report, however for someone taking up reading as a new hobby, this could easily become overwhelming.

In my opinion as an avid reader and all-round booklover, although Goodreads is loved so widely, it falls short in comparison to The Storygraph. While Goodreads provides a more generalised overview, with certain features appealing to the everyday student, The Storygraph puts readers at the forefront of its mission to encourage reading and cultivate a global reading community online. 

The transition from Goodreads to The Storygraph is recently noticeable among the Booktube community, with the likes of Ruby Granger and Jack Edwards exporting their data into the new platform – a feature which makes switching so much easier! However, the platform you ultimately decide to use comes down to personal preference and how large a role reading plays in your everyday life. There is no right answer as to which platform you should choose, and the beauty of having them so easily accessible to us means you can enjoy the best of both online bookish communities. Despite their differences, reading and a love for books is still undeniably central to both platforms.

I am a final year English student at the University of Bristol, passionate about all things books, cats, coffee and features journalism!
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