Goodreads Makes Not So Welcome Changes

good1Goodreads, the premier site for readers, books and authors, recently made significant changes in how it defines authors. These changes however, are causing confusion, problems, and a bit of anger. Users have previously been able to not only become a “friend” of authors, they could also become a “fan”. The recently implimented changes “offers readers three ways to choose to engage with author pages on Goodreads: Friend, follow or favorite.”

As benign as these options sound they don’t necessarily mean what they sound like. Previously, readers connected with authors via connections, now it becomes ‘engage with authors.” Authors are no longer members of Goodreads, they have merely become ‘pages’. According to Goodreads these changes were made to enable them to set up profiles for authors that are not on Goodreads – ie, dead authors.

Complaints from readers have spilled into multiple social media streams. What was a ‘friend’ on Goodreads has become a ‘friend/follow engagement’. In other words, if you were a friend of an author, you will now become ‘both a friend and a follower’ of those authors. If you choose to ‘unfollow’ an author you will also ‘unfriend’ them. It seems Goodreads did not take into consideration that many people on their site are indeed ‘friends’ and not necessarily a ‘fan or follower’ of an author. 

Members of Goodreads will find this out when they log into their account. There was no notice sent to members regarding these changes. Comments on the site range from confusion to outright anger over the changes from not only readers, but authors. Many authors site the fact that they are ‘friends’ with many people who do not read their books and therefore their author page is reserved for readers. With these changes, everyone will see and be connected to their author page. If you ‘unfriend’ you also now ‘unfollow’ and vice-versa.

Here are details from the Goodreads press release:

Surveys with our members tell us that one of the things people like the most about Goodreads is being able to keep up to date with authors whose books they love. To help support this better, we’ve made a change today to clarify how those relationships work and to make them clearer for all of our members. Instead of “Become a Fan,” you’ll now see “Follow Author” on author pages and elsewhere throughout the site. Following an author will opt you into receiving updates from them, including reviews, shelvings, Ask the Author answers, and blog posts.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the three ways you can choose to engage with author pages on Goodreads and why you might want to choose each option:

This is the option to choose if you want to get updates from an author. Following an author opts you into receiving updates from the author, including reviews, shelvings, blog posts, Ask the Author answers, and more. It will also generate a newsfeed item for all your friends and followers to see.

If you just want to say that you love an author’s books, this is the option for you. Favoriting an author adds the author to your list of Favorite Authors, which you can curate and show off on your profile. You won’t get updates from authors you favorite, and it won’t generate a newsfeed item either. If you want to add an author to your list of favorites, you can do so from the dropdown menu next to the “Follow Author” button on author profiles.

This is the option if you want to not only follow the author, but also have the author follow you. Friends can also send each other private messages, which followers cannot necessarily do. Keep in mind that this option may not work for all of your Favorite Authors. For one thing, Goodreads has a limit of 5,000 friends – beyond that limit things get very weird on our site (portals are open, reality reverses itself, etc.). For another, if Veronica Roth actually tried to approve every Goodreads Friend request she gets, she’d never get around to writing that next book. So while you may really want to be Friends with a specific author, please remember that Following the author will get you 99% of what you get from being Friends with them. That being said, if you want to ask an author to be a Friend, you can do so from the dropdown menu next to the “Follow Author” button on the author profile page. The author then has the choice on whether to accept a Friend request.

Check out the following FAQ, and if you still have questions, ask them in this thread.

Why are we making this change?
We want to make it easier for our members to get updates from and about the authors they read. Readers have overwhelmingly told us they want to stay in touch with authors to get news and updates about them and their books. “Follow” is the action we think most clearly accomplishes this.

What happens when I follow an author?
Following an author creates a newsfeed item that your Friends and Followers will see. You’ll start getting updates from the author — reviews, shelvings, blog posts, Ask the Author answers, and more — in your newsfeed. You’ll also appear on the author’s profile as “Following” the author, and the author will appear in your profile as an author you are Following.

Which authors can I Follow?
You can Follow any author, dead or alive, in the Author Program or not.

Why would I want to Follow an author who isn’t a member of Goodreads?
First, we’re working really hard to get every author to join the Author Program. When an author you’re Following joins, you’ll automatically start receiving their updates. Additionally, we want this to be the way you keep up with the latest from all the authors that matter to you, regardless of whether they are on Goodreads or not.

Why would I want to Follow a dead author? Isn’t that kind of morbid?
Well, it’s not likely that Mark Twain is going to claim his author profile and start writing pitch-perfect reviews of contemporary novels (though if he did, that would be pretty cool, right? OK, it’d also be a little creepy). The short answer here is that we want “Follow” to be a way for all our members to get updates about all of the authors that matter to them, living or dead, in the author program or not.

What happens when I add an author to my Favorite Authors list?
Adding an author to your Favorites simply shows off which authors you love the most; it does not create a newsfeed update and does not opt you into receiving updates from or about that author. You can edit the order of how you want the authors to appear in the Favorite Authors section of your profile.

How can I Unfollow an author?
When you hover over the follow button, you’ll see that the text changes to “Unfollow.” Clicking this will Unfollow the author.

Where can I see a list of authors I follow (as opposed to all the people I follow on Goodreads)?
You now have two lists on your profile – “People I Follow” and “Authors I Follow.” And before you say it, yes, we know authors are people, too. We just want to make it as clear as possible where you can find the authors you’re Following. You can see the list of authors you Follow just below your list of Friends on your profile.

I’m on an author profile for an author who is a Goodreads Author, but I don’t see “Compare Books” or “Send a Message.” Why not?
If an author hasn’t shelved any books, you’ll no longer see a Compare Books link (since there’s nothing to compare). Likewise, if an author has their messaging settings set to “Friends Only,” then you will only see the “Send Message” option if you’re already Friends with that author.

What happened to the authors I had previously “fanned?”
Those authors are now found in two places – the list of authors you follow and your favorite authors. If you want to remove them from one list or the other, you can do so either from the list itself or from the author’s profile.

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