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Old 09-12-2020, 05:52 PM   #1
Marco77
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The StoryGraph challenge GoodReads with quality recommendations, unfocus on ratings

Sarah Manavis at New Statesman has a piece on The StoryGraph, a still-in-development recommendation site that aims to avoid mistakes made by previous attempts at taking on GoodReads. Seeking an alternative to the market leader, which hasn't changed that much since Amazon's takeover in 2013, Manavis received numerous prompts on Twitter to give this up-and-coming challenger a try.

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The StoryGraph has spent the past year fine-tuning an algorithm that throws up books its users will genuinely enjoy [...] through a survey tool called Ordered For You. As each reader joins the platform they are prompted to choose from a detailed list of features, explaining what they do or don’t like. Genres, plot features, types of characters, turn-offs such as “flat characters”. Users can also fill in their own reading preferences (they give suggestions such as “family sagas” or “LGBTQ+ authors”). And Goodreads users can import their account data, so they can add all the books they’ve already read into their StoryGraph profile.
(...)
“You will be able to specify in your survey that you’re sensitive to certain triggers and we would be able to flag books with that content”


“If we get the mood right, the pace right, the topic and theme right, the type of author, the type of story you want to hear about – does it matter if the 100 people who read it before you rated it two stars? What if it’s actually a five-star read for you? And that’s what we’re trying to do,” she says, “uncover books for people, because we present them in a different way and show different information upfront.”

(...)


“We’re trying empower readers to say what they’re looking for, to talk to the recommendation system,” Odunayo says. “Almost like when you go into a bookshop or a library and you say ‘hey, this is what I’m feeling’. We’re trying to recreate that experience.”

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But Tom Critchlow (Note: founder of ill-fated 7books) argues that a “better Goodreads”, with functionality such as The StoryGraph offers, must avoid falling for the “seductive and imaginary ideas about social networks” that doomed a long list of previous competitors, including his own. “So many people dream of disrupting Goodreads,” he says, “[but] focus on the wrong things, myself included.”
more at the source: https://www.newstatesman.com/science...rygraph-amazon

BoingBoing takes a stronger stance: Goodreads must be destroyed (some Latin reference for the uncultured like me), and its comments section seems to concur.

Last edited by Marco77; 09-12-2020 at 06:04 PM. Reason: Added reference to BB article
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:25 AM   #2
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Interesting.
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:41 AM   #3
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Having dumped GR 18 months or so ago, I found this interesting. I've just signed up and taken their introductory survey. I await the recommendations it generates with mild curiosity.
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Old 09-13-2020, 08:40 AM   #4
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I had a go at it, but I thought the interface was clunky. Basically, there needs to be an ability to display a list of books by an author when you click on 'owned' so you can click on each title.

There also doesn't seem to be any way to import a list of books from an external source (LibraryThing in my case) apart from Goodreads.

Besides, I'm not really looking for recommendations nor a place to review my reading. LT suits my needs at the moment so I doubt I'll continue with it.
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Old 09-13-2020, 08:44 AM   #5
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I had a go at it, but I thought the interface was clunky. Basically, there needs to be an ability to display a list of books by an author when you click on 'owned' so you can click on each title.

There also doesn't seem to be any way to import a list of books from an external source (LibraryThing in my case) apart from Goodreads.

Besides, I'm not really looking for recommendations nor a place to review my reading. LT suits my needs at the moment so I doubt I'll continue with it.
I did try LibraryThing. But when I reported a rather blatant error, it was ignored and not fixed. So I left for Goodreads. GR isn't perfect,but it is better then LT when a reported error gets ignored.At least on GR, I get a reply.

Oh and yes, you can import a lit of books on GR.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/import

Last edited by JSWolf; 09-13-2020 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 09-13-2020, 09:25 AM   #6
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I had a go at it, but I thought the interface was clunky.
That's fair. It is only in beta at the moment, so I'm hoping that the interface will improve over time.
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Old 09-13-2020, 09:38 AM   #7
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I signed up for the beta as well. The first round of suggestions was ok, I had already read about a third. One thing that might be useful is liked/didn't like. Just because I own it, doesn't mean I liked it.

At one time, Amazon had a thumbs up/thumbs down on recommendations so you could fine tune it. Not sure why they dropped that.
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Old 09-13-2020, 12:43 PM   #8
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Having dropped GR 7 years ago, I'm not exactly looking for a replacement. Librarything fulfills my cataloging needs (and that's just a backup to my Calibre "review" library) and since I'm on wordpress and have built up a list of trustworthy readers to follow, I get all the suggestions I need. More than I need in fact.

I'll take peoples' recommendations over some algorithm any day. But then, I actually WILL read the books I add to my tbr, unlike many people who add for adding's sake.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:02 PM   #9
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I'll take peoples' recommendations over some algorithm any day. But then, I actually WILL read the books I add to my tbr, unlike many people who add for adding's sake.
I will admit I'm horribly behind on my reading this summer. What with external events, I just haven't been in the mood to read much, and without the commute I don't have 2 slots of 45 minutes where I can read. I've spent more time working on my catalogue than I have reading, plus I'm now doing a lot more roleplaying over Discord or Roll20 (not having to get up at 5 am helps with that!)

I have a bunch of Early Reviewer books to catch up on having stalled on one I got sent mistakenly. Not my cup of tea at all, and unlike the NewCon Novellas, it's like an unwelcome guest in my TBR pile.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:04 PM   #10
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I signed up for the beta as well. The first round of suggestions was ok, I had already read about a third. One thing that might be useful is liked/didn't like. Just because I own it, doesn't mean I liked it.

At one time, Amazon had a thumbs up/thumbs down on recommendations so you could fine tune it. Not sure why they dropped that.
I did notice you could set the read status to 'did not finish' - which I have done for one book I picked up this summer and have no intention of finishing.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:11 PM   #11
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I did try LibraryThing. But when I reported a rather blatant error, it was ignored and not fixed. So I left for Goodreads. GR isn't perfect,but it is better then LT when a reported error gets ignored.At least on GR, I get a reply.
The problem is if the error is in someone's catalogue, all you can do is open a conversation with the member and hope they're still around to see the message (over the years there's been a lot of drive-by members). LT staff won't go into somebody's catalogue to fix things - it's the member's data, not the community's data.

I confess to being irritated by that as well, especially when it's a case of a RPG book where it's important to know which edition to combine the work into. With minimal information, and no cover, there's not a hope of knowing.
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Old 09-13-2020, 08:12 PM   #12
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I need book recommendations about as much as I need to learn Klingon. GR has some of the worst book recommendations, but I do use reviews there to help filter books that I’m considering buying.

More broadly, I don’t think anyone does a good job with recommendations in general, and I pretty much ignore them.
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Old 09-14-2020, 08:16 AM   #13
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I'll take peoples' recommendations over some algorithm any day. But then, I actually WILL read the books I add to my tbr, unlike many people who add for adding's sake.
Books read and rated by my GR friends are by far the best source of recommendations, but my front page at GR is now so crowded with extraneous matter that I have to dig for them and I mostly donít. Iím doing this for the giggles, but Iím not expecting much, but more power to them if they pull it off.

Youíve mentioned one of my GR pet peeves, though, and itís all on the members. The ridiculous length of peopleís TBR lists makes comparisons useless and it also means I donít care to see their feed. I donít get it, myself. Whatís the point of a TBR with thousands and thousands of books? Iíve got one friend whoís over 70 with some 7,000 books on her want-to-read list.

I use GR for my own purposes and I try to limit the useful information I provide, i.e., I donít link my Amazon account. Itís not as if they use my data to make reasonable recommendations; itís all marketing.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:24 AM   #14
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I stopped adding books I read, wanted to read and reviews when I realised that Goodreads was an Amazon data capture tool. Amazon should never have been allowed to buy it, Mobipocket, IMDB, Book depository, Abe Books and others.

Also they are totally inflexible about content removal. As mentioned in the article, the site doesn't even work very well.

Like Amazon, they also conflate illustrators and colourists as book authors!

StoryGraph seems to be on a second incarnation and seems poor. Their selection screen for filtering recommendations is also poor, though the idea is reasonable and works well on the TV broadcast Guide, Digiguide, which is far better than Radio Times, RTE Guide, Sky Onscreen Guide / Search or Freeview/Freesat guide/search.

The best alternative would be for Amazon to be forced to divest of companies that they should never have been allowed to buy. But we certainly don't want to see Goodreads owned by any Social Media Company, Apple, Microsoft, Google or Oracle. Or any company owning online or physical bookshops.

I don't know what the answer is for an alternative. We do still of course list our new releases on Goodreads. But be warned, even if no copies are yet sold and the cover is changed before release, Goodreads will not remove the never used invalid cover.

Also Amazon refuses to remove listings for totally withdrawn novels. It's reasonable that they should keep listings for merely out-of-print novels.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:30 AM   #15
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Youíve mentioned one of my GR pet peeves, though, and itís all on the members. The ridiculous length of peopleís TBR lists makes comparisons useless and it also means I donít care to see their feed. I donít get it, myself. Whatís the point of a TBR with thousands and thousands of books? Iíve got one friend whoís over 70 with some 7,000 books on her want-to-read list.
There was a link on these forums to the number of books ordinary, avid and extreme readers can read before they die. If you actually have a life, it's a low number!

Yes, I'd like to see The StoryGraph succeed. However despite being a very keen reader I didn't sign up. I might later simply to make sure our books are on their database.
They could maybe import Neilsen's and ingram's ISBN datebases for the English language titles?
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