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Book Recommendation Showdown: Amazon vs. Goodreads

One of the reasons I started blogging was because I was frustrated with my ability to find books I really wanted to read and with book recommendation sites. I would scour Amazon for hours, looking for a books that had good reviews and seemed interesting.

Even though Amazon had a pretty good recommendation engine then, I still wasn’t satisfied. Now as a blogger, I find myself overloaded with all of the books on my list to read. Not a bad problem!

I think it’s worth it to review two of the most popular book-related sites to see how their “suggested reads” stack up against each other.

Book Recommendation Showdown: Amazon vs. Goodreads

I will evaluate each book recommendation section of the two sites and grade them on the following criteria:

  • Relevancy
  • Presentation
  • Would I Read It

Also note that I didn’t choose Barnes and Noble or other book sites because I don’t use them. Amazon and Goodreads are the two main sites I look at to get book recommendations. Please feel free to add your opinions about other sites in the comments!!

Amazon

Let’s start with the facts: Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, so their whole mission in life is to get you to BUY THINGS. That said, anyone with a computer and half a brain can leave a review. This article on Lit Reactor makes this a case in point by showing the best novels of all time and Amazon commenters one star reviews of them. So…there’s that.

On Amazon, I have only rated 68 novels, but I’ve purchased innumerable books from them over the past 10 years.

Moving on to our criteria:

1Relevancy

book recommendations amazon


book recommendations amazon


Each of the books that Amazon recommended was based off another book I had rated, which you can see marked by “Recommended because you rated ____”.

Out of the 6 books listed, 4 of them are relevant to me. I haven’t read the first book in the Ann Aguirre series or the Laini Taylor series. They are all young adult fiction, though, so that’s a bonus.

2Presentation

Let’s start with pros: I love that you can immediately add a book to your cart to “remember” for later or to purchase. Plus, I love seeing what it’s average rating is along with how many reviews it has right from the recommendation page.

Cons: Amazon has a habit of showing books that aren’t available to purchase yet. It’s not a big deal, but I would like to see books I can read NOW, not later.

3Would I Read It

Out of the books listed, I would read two: Hemlock and The Treachery of Beautiful Things. That’s partially because of a lack of motivation toward the others and the fact that I haven’t read the first books in two series.

OVERALL FOR AMAZON: Pretty solid. I don’t read everything they recommend, but they often put books on my radar I may not have thought of. Often times, books they recommend I have either already read or are in the process of reading (ARCs).

Goodreads

I haven been using Goodreads for over a year – much less time than Amazon. But, I’ve rated more books there – about 212. Obviously, I don’t purchase books via Goodreads, but they are my go-to site for finding upcoming books.

I trust Goodreads reviews WAY MORE than Amazon’s. Mainly because my blogger friends heavily participate in the site, and their reviews appear at the top of book profiles.

1Relevancy

book recommendation goodreads


Hmmm, Goodreads, what are you thinking? Although I’m clearly in the Young Adult genre, these books are not really my thing. They are not the newest YA books being published and don’t necessarily match up with my taste preferences.

Although, I just realized that I don’t really categorize my shelves in Goodreads. Acccording to their “Improve your recommendations” box, users should put all their books in different categories. Will do, Goodreads!

improve book recommendations goodreads


2Presentation

Pros: The books are nicely displayed, and when you hover over each of them, you can see why that book is being recommended and can read a short description of the book. Plus, you can easily add it to your To-Be-Read list.

Cons: There isn’t a ranked order of books like in Amazon, and if you wanted to, you’d need to take an extra step to actually buy the book.

3Would I Read It

Out of the 10 books listed, I would read 2 – Unspoken and The Lightening Thief. The others don’t fit in close enough with my current interests.

OVERALL FOR GOODREADS: Just ok. Although I will continue to use Goodreads as a way to see what my friends are reading and their reviews, I won’t be using it to get book recommendations that Goodreads themselves generates.


Where do you get your book recommendations – websites like Amazon or Goodreads, from friends and family or some other way?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • http://twitter.com/OnStarshipsBlog Anya E. J.

    But but but… Destiny Binds was awesome! This was a great post though, and now I’m tempted to go compare my recommendations as well, but I’m afraid I’d start buying books again…

  • Biblibio

    I actually think that one of the advantages of Goodreads over Amazon in terms of recommendations is that because Goodreads isn’t trying to sell you things, they entertain the option of backlist and older titles. Those recommended titles are perhaps not the newest, hottest thing in literature happening now, but they’re certainly worthwhile books.

    Ultimately, neither system is ideal. Amazon’s sole purpose is to get you to buy things whether or not you would really like it; Goodreads is a wider ranging system that doesn’t always hone in on the right choices. Recommendations are best left to humans, not algorithms. In the meantime, at least…

  • Jen

    I buy books from Barnes and Noble most of the time because I have a Nook and I must say their recommendations are very spot on! I’ve noticed the same problem with Goodreads though.

  • http://www.talesofwhimsy.com/ Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

    From other bloggers and Goodreads.

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