Finally, a massive response to Amazon-owned Goodreads: Introducing The StoryGraph


The StoryGraph – an app that lets you keep track of the books you’ve read, rate and review among many other things – is something every book lover should have in their app library. Complete with beautiful analytics, personalized recommendations, and a community of 1.2 million members, The StoryGraph is everything Goodreads is not. We spoke with co-founders Nadia Odunayo and Rob Frelow to dig deeper into everything we love about our new favorite book app.

As a loyal reader and someone who’s been a member of the Goodreads community since 2013, I’ve found myself constantly frustrated with the app, especially in recent years, because of everything Goodreads doesn’t and doesn’t offer. Aside from the fact that the app has barely been updated since its inception – making the user experience stale – there are obvious bugs that should help me better understand what kind of reader I am, and perhaps what kind of reader I want to be. The StoryGraph shines in this space.

Designed for readers by readers

Nadia O’Donoghue, founder of The StoryGraph, started working on the app in 2019:

I’ve had the idea for years, but when I finally had time to work on the project in earnest at the beginning of 2019, I had a lot of fun and knew…that I somehow wanted to build a business in the book space.

Knowing that any successful product relies on customer research, I began talking to readers and learning all about their pain points through book applications, trying to see if there was room for something worth building.

I began to incorporate their feedback into the product I was working on, and have continued to do so over the past few years which is what led to what The StoryGraph is today.

Odunayo’s dive into customer needs and wants shows in every feature of StoryGraph; There isn’t a single thing that isn’t thought of, and as a user, I appreciate the continued dedication to what readers are looking for in the book app. StoryGraph was clearly designed by someone who’s a reader themselves, rather than Goodreads, which hasn’t taken user experience into account in what feels like a decade.

In addition to conveying the user’s desire for app development, The StoryGraph also provides a much-needed space for freelance authors. Co-Founder Rob Frilo:

If today you’re interested in a murder mystery case set deep in the woods featuring a kidnapping, and tomorrow you’re in the mood for a sentimental but funny romantic comedy set in a big city, you can find that on The StoryGraph. You are not stuck with old ratings or past favourites. You won’t see any “upgraded” books, which independent authors can’t afford at all. You have complete control.

Not only does The StoryGraph give users a completely independent experience—it also provides a space for independent authors instead of promoting books under household names—it’s the digital equivalent of stepping into Barnes and Noble versus your local bookstore.

The truth is that Goodreads dominates the book app market thanks to Amazon’s $150 million acquisition in 2013, and what that means is that it simply hasn’t had to innovate or improve its user experience because it’s owned by the world’s largest online retailer. On the other hand, The StoryGraph has taken the time and feedback from its users to create a truly personal experience that readers can actually benefit from.

Clean look and features galore

The first thing I noticed after downloading The StoryGraph was how beautiful it was. Simple and modern in its design aesthetic — and without clutter or ads — it brings out the app’s best features in bright, bold colors, making it easy to navigate. In a smart move by its founders, you can import your Goodreads library into StoryGraph; Once you’ve imported your library, you can then populate the list of preferences (don’t just choose what you want specifically an act You like to read, but also what you don’t), and from there, the app starts working its magic.

In terms of its features, there is nothing Odunayo and Frelow haven’t thought of. Within The StoryGraph, the user can:

  • Rate, review and track books
  • Engage in a “friend read” with someone from their community
  • Keep a reading journal
  • Enter book giveaways
  • Set reading goals by the number of books, pages, or hours
  • Browse book recommendations by mood, pace, genre, or page number
  • View profile analytics

While some of these features will be familiar to Goodreads users, The StoryGraph takes them one step further, improving the reader experience by customizing each feature and offering choices that are specific to a person, rather than recommendations for an entire community.

The standout feature of StoryGraph is the stats with ease. O’Donoghue says of them:

We use statistics to tell you what kind of reader you are. For example: “You mainly read books that are adventurous, fun, and hopeful. You typically choose books that are fast-paced and 300-499 pages long. Users love this because it gives them a new way to describe the type of books they like and helps them discover new favourites.

Even though I’m new to The StoryGraph community, I’ve already offered my own analyzes to everyone in my life who I know will appreciate their nuance, because the thing about being a reader is this: We gravitate toward books that are familiar to us. That could mean reading your favorite author’s latest book (or re-reading another feature from The StoryGraph) or, as is popular, staying within certain genres or moods.

The beauty of these infographics is that by providing you with a visual review of what you’ve read, you’re now armed with the information needed to make different choices and/or grow as a reader if you choose to do so. I had no idea I was reading more contemporary or historical books than anything else, and as I move into 2023, I’m going to focus on poetry—something I’ve loved deeply my entire life, but I don’t read nearly enough. One-on-one groups – and sociology – is something that has always intrigued me, but for whatever reason I seem inclined to avoid it, too.

Without the data provided by The StoryGraph, I wouldn’t know exactly what kind of reader I am, and would instead work on the assumption that I read mostly memoirs and true crime when I usually read “emotional, reflective, and dark fiction.”

It is contained

Whether you’re an avid reader, an occasional reader, or someone who reads a book or two a year, The StoryGraph is an app truly made for you. From its beautiful and personalized analyzes to its incredibly specific book recommendations, this is an app every reader will love.

Check out The StoryGraph on Instagram here, Twitter over hereand desktop here.

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