The Goodreads Problem. Goodreads is a website that has been around for awhile as a way to review books, track your tbrs and keep track of your books. It has thousands of books listed but it’s not without it’s issues. The biggest one has been on full display in the last week when an Author put reviewers on blast. This particular situation is a bit more nuanced then just a problem with Goodreads. This post isn’t about the author or their actions. It’s about how easy it was for people to tank a books rating and how Goodreads handled it.
There is something fundamental about being a book reviewer. Our word, opinion, is called into question if we don’t review a book ‘just right’. It is a fact that came up this past week on Twitter when, author Lauren Hough, posted screenshots of some reviews for her book that were 4.5 stars. It’s a common complaint on Goodreads that there is no half stars. When we post our reviews we state what the stars actually are vs what we posted on Goodreads. 4.5 either have to be marked as 4 or 5 stars on the site. This seemed to be something that upset Hough, who tweeted the reviewers should ‘grow up’. Her tweets got more inflammatory as she went lending to a mob going on Goodreads to 1 star review her book.
I don’t agree with what Hough said. However, I don’t agree with purposefully tanking a book out of spite. I agree with posting a ‘review’ that leaves no stars but voices your opinion on the author’s actions. Posting a 1 star review that isn’t about actually reading the book is giving reviewers a bad name. We want to be respected. It’s something that we’ve argued for since forever. How can a reviewer be respected if they’d review a book they’d never read?
The Goodreads Problem
Of course things escalated to a new level when Goodreads removed the 1 star reviews. Is it bad that they did this? No but what is bad is that there are several other authors that have had this happened. Goodreads did nothing. What’s the difference? This author is white, female and part of the LGTBQ+ community.
So what is the real problem? The fact that this can even happen in the first place. Authors put all they are into their books. When the author does something that we as readers, fans and reviewers don’t like we should be mature in our response. Especially when the author isn’t. We should rise above their poor actions and be better. We all love books, if you don’t like an authors actions, don’t buy their book. Tweet about why you don’t like them, post a ‘non star’ review if you’d like but leave the stars alone.
I don’t think anyone expects either side of this to be perfect. We want to continue reading and writing. It’s part of who we are. Obviously anyone can be subject to a mob of people vilifying your work. But if you are going to take action for one author, you should take action for all of them. How many times have we seen AOC have their books 1 star reviewed simply because the person doesn’t like POC. That’s not a review of the book! How can that be okay?
What Can We Do?
I think part of the issue is rising to the bait. Some people are just assholes. They say assholish things to get the attention. Don’t give it to them. But if you do, be smart about it. Hough was able to get so much support because hundreds of people tanked her book because ‘they didn’t like what she said’. I’m not saying everyone that did that was even an actual reviewer. Some people that don’t review books for blogs or anything will still post reviews on Goodreads.
It’s part of why people like it, some people even only post reviews on Goodreads. The point though is that if you review books, if you take pride in reviewing books, don’t 1 star anyone’s work simply because of shit they said on the internet. Read it, review it properly. If it’s shit, 1 star the work, not the author. Goodreads isn’t about reviewing the author themselves. It’s about their work.
I hope that Goodreads can respond to all 1 star reviews on all authors books that weren’t valid reviews. The only other thing I’d like to add is this…
….Can we get half stars already? Seriously?!