When I’m not doing coursework or wrangling glasses for a large retail company, I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources. With my novel releasing this week (WHOOOT!), I am particularly interested in social media that connects readers to writers.
So, as I was reading this week’s material, I considered which book-related site sounded interesting. Scribd was described in one of the resources as a sort of manuscript version of YouTube where people can upload bits of writing and scholarly papers for others to download or enjoy (Bonk, 2009). That sounds like a nightmare in copyright issues, so I decided to go check out that one, and found that it wasn’t at all what was described in the book. Maybe in 2009 it was the YouTube of the writing world, but now? No, it’s more Netflix for books.
Disappointing, really, but there are other fish in the sea, and I cast a line out to hook another one. Goodreads! I was already familiar with it, and I even have an account there as an author, but I don’t play with it much because I’m still trying to get the blog and Facebook things worked out. One mess at a time is about all I can handle right now.
Goodreads is a book sharing site. Readers can create an account and chat with each other, share reviews, and form discussion groups about their favorite books. There is some concern about how authoritative the reviews on sites like this can be. Some people express concern about reviewers who either love everything they read or hate everything they read, and others seriously doubt the validity of just an average reader who writes a review (Hoffert, 2010). Others, including blogger and marketing specialist Kristen Lamb have run afoul of serious bullying issues on Goodreads. Groups of readers go after an author sometimes just because they can and they want to and sometimes because they don’t care for something the author said or did. So, there are risks involved, which tends to be true on many types of social media even as far back as the dial-in bulletin boards of FidoNet in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Using Goodreads in Class
With a little coaching on proper etiquette and the dodging of trolls, Goodreads might be a handy resource in a class studying literature. Discussion groups can be formed on the site where students can share their impressions of the work or answer questions. This would work much like an online version of a book circle.
Many writers have their own accounts on Goodreads and there are some who entertain questions from readers. There’s also a message system. Students might be able to contact the author. Many authors I know would look forward to such an opportunity to chat with their readers, but I have known some who have time constraints, other commitments, or just a lack of interest. To prevent disappointment, a teacher might arrange a book talk with the author ahead of time.
Have you had an opportunity to talk to an author of a book you enjoyed?
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Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Hoffert, B. (2010). Every reader a reviewer: The online book conversation. Library Journal, 135(14), 23-25. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/csp/cms/sites/LJ/LJInPrint/CurrentIssue/index.csp?pinfo=lj-2010-09-01
Lamb, K. (2014, January 2). Brave new bullying: Goodreads gangs, Amazon attacks — What are writers to do? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/brave-new-bullying-goodreads-gangs-amazon-attacks-what-are-writers-to-do/