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Amazon Kills Shelfari

shelfari

It’s official, the day that I’ve been dreading for several years has arrived. Amazon, which owns both Goodreads and Shelfari, has decided that it no longer cares to maintain Shelfari. Officially, “Shelfari is merging with Goodreads.” But let’s call it what it is: a shutdown. I feel like I’m losing a best friend and I’m pissed off.

For those of you who don’t know about Shelfari, it is a book cataloguing and discussion site. I’m a member of both it and Goodreads, and they each offer different things that I like and use. What makes Shelfari special is its passionate and supportive community of serious readers. Goodreads is great but ,when it comes to book recommendations, I always turn to my Shelfari friends. Why? Because my Goodreads friend list is populated primarily by Facebook friends — many of whom read relatively little or and have vastly different tastes.

Shelfari is superior to Goodreads when it comes to discussions. The Shelfari site had the ability to “nest” replies within discussion threads, thus allowing for more in-depth and active discussions. It has been my experience that Shelfari members are much more serious about their reading (on average) and also are more courteous and respectful. There’s a lot of shaming that occurs on Goodreads that doesn’t happen on Shelfari. For example, check out this article from Book Riot that came out last year.

The worst thing about the whole “merger” is that Amazon is giving Shelfari members just two months to move all their data over to Goodreads. I actively participate in two Shelfari groups that have been operating since 2008/2009 and have thousands of discussion threads, challenges, and games. The move will likely kill one of those groups completely and severely impact the other. So two months just doesn’t cut it – it is rude and sends a message that Amazon doesn’t truly care about some of its best customers.

I get that Goodreads is a giant compared to Shelfari and it makes economic sense to be prioritized. Yet, Amazon should know that Shelfari members are VERY voracious readers. Last year I read over 170 books, many specifically recommended by members in my various Shelfari groups and I buy most of my books through Amazon. One of my groups has 21,000 members listed on the roster and the other group has several thousand. And those are just two of the groups on the site. That is a lot of potential income. How costly can it be to maintain both sites and keep readers (who spend lots of money on Amazon) happy?

Right now I’m wallowing in self-pity and watching my fellow Shelfari members grieve the loss of a site that has become so special to so many of us. So, thanks to Amazon for destroying something that we all love. From what I’m seeing on the discussion threads, it looks like you have sent a lot of potential business to LibraryThing and Leafmarks.

I know a bunch of my Shelfari friends are follow us here. What are your thoughts? 

UPDATE 5/31/16: Turns out that Leafmarks (mentioned above) is also shutting down. Members received an email notifying them of the closure of the site effective July 1. I ultimately migrated to Good Reads since I already had all my books there. I also use Library thing but all my groups are on GR. I feel bad for all the people who decided to migrate to Leafmarks rather than one of the two more established sites. Now they have to make yet another move.

Feeling lost and want to know where to go? Here are some options:

Good Reads:
You can track books, join book discussions, add friends/connections, get recommendations. Good Reads has a social media feel and since I’ve been active there it appears that they are making their interface look more and more like facebook. Downsides: 1) It’s owned by Amazon (that can be a plus depending on your outlook), 2) it is huge so hard to maintain those close connections that you likely had at Shelfari, 3) no nested discussions and don’t expect it anytime soon. Good reads users are very vociferous about their dislike of nested discussions. Upsides: 1) Amazon has clearly made it the platform of choice so it will be around for a while, 2) great database with options to add different editions and covers, 3) lots of authors are there so plenty of opportunity to interact with favorite authors, 4) a wide variety of discussion groups, and 5) they have a mobile app.

Library Thing: You can join groups, track books, join book discussions, participate in early reader program to get free galleys/arcs. If what you are looking for is tracking your books, Library Thing is the best site given the extensive number of features for cataloguing. Downsides: 1) harder to use than other sites and requires some playing around to figure out all the features; 2) no nested discussions; 3) no mobile app; 4) small fee if you want to catalogue more than 200 books. Upsides: 1) great cataloguing site with many features; 2) early reader program; 3) only partially owned by Amazon so for those who dislike Amazon; 4) really friendly users and helpful admins.

Litsy: A new Iphone app that is like a combination of instagram and goodreads. Upsides: great visuals, ability to link photos with short blurbs, reviews, and quotes. Downsides: Only available on iphone (for now), not as good to catalogue books and not that conducive to in depth discussions.

Rifflebooks: I just joined this site so I will come back again later to update. Thanks to one of our readers for letting us know about this site. It lets you track books, create lists, make friends, and they will provide reading recommendations. I’m still exploring all its features.

A few other places to check out include:
Book Likes
aNobii

 

152 Comments Post a comment
  1. Have any of you switched over to LibraryThing yet? I’ve exported my books from Goodreads and am trying to import them to LT, but the import isn’t working. All I get is a tiny error message saying “problem: uploadalert,” but I can’t find out what the problem is, and their help page isn’t helping. Wondering if any of you can tell what I’m doing wrong!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 26, 2016
    • I did move to both LT and GR. I had problems at both sites. Library thing imported all my books to library without separating them into read, TBR, and currently reading. Goodreads imported a portion but not all and with missing tags, dates, or reviews for many. I like LT better for shelving but find it much more complicated and less intuitive to use. I haven’t figured out how to request assistance in fixing problems there. Hopefully someone on this thread can help you.

      Like

      January 26, 2016
      • Jen, it’s a more advanced tool, but can really help simplify things to start out: have you gone into the Settings for your catalog views and customized at least one? Settings is highlighted here:

        And then you can drag and drop what you want in and out of each display style. So if you want a minimalist look most of the time, you can make Style A “Cover,” “Author,” “Title,” “Collections,” and then set it as the default style for others viewing your catalog as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2016
      • Thanks will try. I haven’t had a hug amount of time to play around yet as we move all our content off shelfari and set up groups at goodreads. Once the storm has passed I hope to have some time to dedicate to getting things set up at library thing so I can keep my books updated there.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2016
      • Totally get it. And glad to hear the tags came along for the ride; that, for me, was my primary tracking source before we had Collections. I use the 75 Book Challenge to keep track of my reading and only sort-of track “read,” “reading,” “TBR,” but I imagine if Shelfari had been where I nested back when I was exploring book homes, I would have been much more invested in that delineation and would be disappointed if it didn’t get transferred, too.

        Like

        January 26, 2016
      • I will say, unlike GR, at least my LT import included all my tags and that is a critical piece of my shelf.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 26, 2016
      • rainey #

        the email address I used was – support@goodreads.com.

        They imported by books from Shelfari 3 times.

        Do the Shelfari to export of your items again. Send the library file (unopened) to the goodreads support email listed above. all but 58 of my 1500+ books couldn’t be exported.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 23, 2016
    • Work hat on: Gwen and Jen, Ammar is working on all Shelfari import-related questions, some of which may be the same as or related to yours, and some may be unique. If you’d like to email him directly, he’s at ammar@librarything.com and you can also participate in the Talk threads with other Shelfarians and LTers working to help out: https://www.librarything.com/topic/217443
      Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 26, 2016
  2. Susie #

    This is just a bummer. I probably will not keep up on entries. I also keep track of my books on an Exel spreadsheet and that is satisfactory for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
  3. Stef #

    I totally agree with you, Jen. I am VERY disappointed!! I am a Shelfari refugee😦 I miss my SHELF! Amazon, why oh, why did you do this?!?!

    All my tags, dates (for finishing each book which I was METICULOUS with), etc. were lost in the move to GR. Fortunately I noticed in time to write them ALL down (tons of time, but it was important to me), but I see no where to add them on my GoodReads profile. I also did a screen print of each page of my shelf, which I printed so I can see what I had on Shelfari even when it’s gone.

    Shelfari was far more personable. On Shelfari an author contacted me to read his book because he’d noticed I was a history buff. I don’t think that could happen on GR.

    Thanks for your advice, Jen. I will definitely check out LibraryThing and Leafmark as GR is a cold & impersonal place. Damn you, Amazon!!😦 I hope GR & the other sites read this and take our suggestions for improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 23, 2016
  4. I am totally with you. I do not like the format of Good Reads at all and only maintained an account for the children’s literature I read for my classroom. I love my Shelfari account and feel lost without it. I’m going to book club tonight and now I can’t even think about all of the books I’ve read and want to share without it.😦

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2016
  5. Maureen #

    hi there, I too am a Shelfari refugee. 34 reviews were lost in the move, I emailed GR and received instructions on how to transfer them all again. Received an email to say the transfer was complete, then another to say ’34 books have not been moved’. Plus all of the reviews were totalled randomised and not in order of reading. Now they ignore my emails completely! Any solutions for basic computer users? thankyou

    Like

    March 6, 2016
    • I would email them again with the file and see if you can get them to add them. Otherwise I’d unfortunately say that you need to manually enter them. 34 isn’t too bad considering what I’ve been hearing from others. I knew one person with 1000 books and 600 were missing. Good luck

      Like

      March 6, 2016
  6. Christine Dundas #

    One thing that Shelfari did was to list characters and descriptions of a book. That would come in handy when I would have to quickly look up a character. I hope that feature is added to Goodreads.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 23, 2016
  7. Willowen Draec #

    I’ve only just returned to my Shelfari account earlier. I’ve recently been writing reviews on Goodreads and also use it to mark books I want to read in the future, but use Shelfari for creating a digital catalogue of every book I’ve owned and read. I’ve only learned about the shut down until after it was too late and now I have to remake my catalogue of books all over again :U

    Liked by 1 person

    April 1, 2016
    • I’m so sorry to hear that. Is it too late to email them and get a file of your books?

      Like

      April 1, 2016
  8. I’m also pissed of. 400 of my 500 books at Shelfari are missing at Goodreads!

    Like

    April 13, 2016
    • So sorry. It seems to have been an awful process for so many. Have you emailed them? I know several people who emailed goodreads support with their spreadsheet and were ultimately able to salvage most (but not all) their content

      Like

      April 13, 2016
    • You could try this (this person put a program to help with the import and several from my group have used it successfully): http://megalion.org/shelf/

      Like

      April 13, 2016
  9. Chris #

    Not sure if anyone else has brought this up…

    I USED shelfari in addition to GR and the one thing I LOVED about shelfari is the list of characters. Is there another social website that also lists the characters. Any chance of GR “merging” that little gem? :)

    Liked by 1 person

    April 22, 2016
    • I have heard people request this feature in the goodreads admin/librarian groups and of all requests it has met with the least resistance -most people support the idea. Whether it gets implemented is another question. I think it’s doubtful. I agree that is a nice feature and one I am sad to lose.

      Like

      April 22, 2016
    • I’m so glad you asked😉 That’s actually one of my favorite LibraryThing features, especially when I’m reading a new-to-me author I really enjoy and I find that one of the characters appears in a different book/series. Here’s the character page for Hercule Poirot, which I’ve used to choose Christie books; I don’t care for Miss Marple, and love Poirot, so it’s a great tool:
      https://www.librarything.com/character/Hercule+Poirot
      (disclaimer, I work for LT but this comment is posted as a long-time member)

      Liked by 1 person

      April 22, 2016
  10. Just returned to the US after traveling for three months. Any way at this point in time to save my lists from Shelfari? Tried to sign in to the site, but cannot.

    Like

    May 3, 2016
    • I am not sure. I still get the message that gives you the link to export your data. The message says it will shut down on May 31 so you should be able to save some data. But all groups and the front homepage is gone

      Like

      May 3, 2016
  11. Another one bites the dust. A few days ago, Leafmarks announced that they will be shutting down. I know there are some Library Thing admins on here so you may want to head over there and invite people over to LT.

    Sorry for all the folks who have to make yet another move. I have accounts at LT and GoodReads. My groups have worked out better at GR but I like LT for cataloguing my books so I use both.

    Like

    May 31, 2016
    • Thanks, Jen! We did get notification and my colleagues are running text export/import to make sure everything goes smoothly, fields line up, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 31, 2016
  12. I have never used Shelfari but was planning to, so obviously I searched it up and told me it had merged! I guess it must be a letdown for active users. I use Goodreads and another platform:
    https://www.rifflebooks.com/
    Riffle
    It’s good but I’ll stick with Goodreads for most things

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016
  13. Tsai P. L. (Dr. Lee) #

    I totally agree with you. Suddenly my Shelfari disappeared and I lost all the work I have put in and all the friends contacts there. Very disappointing with Amazon.They did start a goodread for me but did not transfer all my material there. Goodread is also so different from shelfari. i do not think I shall want to order from them again after what they have done! In fact I just ordered quite a few Sidney Sheldon books from amazon.co.uk.

    Like

    June 6, 2016
  14. Tsai P. L. (Dr. Lee) #

    I totally agree with you. Suddenly my Shelfari disappeared and I lost all the work I have put in and all the friends contacts there. Very disappointing with amazon. i do not think I shall want to order from them again after what they have done! In fact just orders some sidney Sheldon books from Amazon.co.uk. Try to transfer to Goodread but doesnt work! Now all my info is gone!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 6, 2016
    • I’m so sorry you lost all your work. If you got a copy of the csv file you can still try to salvage your data. Try LibraryThing or try contacting the goodreads admins. They have been able to help people retrieve data.

      Like

      June 6, 2016
  15. Ahex #

    I’ve been GR member since 2009 and it has good points, but also some really annoying. Good point is that it has wide international selection, so you don’t need to add every book you read because your language is Finnish. Adding and changing policy is very vague and you never know who gets mad and you get warning or be a part of silent change war. It is owned by Amazon so every s*it it has imported and later users have added more info becomes a book. So if someone sells used book on Amazon and it has ASIN assigned, it becomes a new edition. Some asian bookseller puts their phone number in place of ISBN and it becomes a legitimate book etc. Single comic issues are not allowed unless Amazon decides to make Kindle version and it has ASIN. So you have added single issue comic and it gets removed because it is against policy(and you might get warned), but when same issue is added as a kindle edition it becomes legitimate book. I have faced several turf wars, for example comic is originally French, but Finnish translation and possible Finnish series is added first thus becoming first edition. Then french (or other original edition) is added and Finnish series is removed because original series order is correct. Also few Finnish (or other translated ) editions have been removed to put original edition first. Also site being American and people wanting yo keep series list short, thus American series becomes correct one (author has made few books and has gained success and then 3rd in series us first to be translated and becomes series number 1. It also affects other way around. Some very popular american writers have done 20+ books in series, but only handful of them are translated and not necessarily in publication and story order, then it might be difficult to find which books you need to read in original language and in which order.

    Also there is too many main categories ebook kindle, nook, audiobook, audioCD, mp3 CD, Audible, downloadable mp3 etc. and others don’t give a damn is their audiobook originally from CD, Cassette or mp3 if they have just mp3 files on their computer. So there inconsistencies between type and ISBN and possible picture. I have corrected several of them to match, so changed paperback cover to corresponding audiobook or type to ISBN and caused again flagged changes and earned warnings.

    So when you do a lot of free work to add and correct data you might get warnings and wont get reason why you were warned. Nowadays I dong give a damn is data correct or not. I look ISBN from my book or copy it from internet based on name and pick first image on google search, because it is much easier that trying to find is that ISBN from which type audiobook and is that image from hardcover, softcover or book club only cover.

    I tried shelfari few years ago, but there was only few Finnish books I decided it takes too much time to transfer my books manually.

    Tried to create riflebooks account, but my registration stopped on phase 1. Tried also librarything , and it had quite good selection, but I like to choose correct edition I have read not a list that has same book with same ISBN added multiple times.

    There is no currently perfect book site, but GR is ok if you don’t mind it being a bit patronizing and cold. GR isn’t homey and it doesn’t concentrate on reading and discussion about reading, but policies and bureaucracy. It is owned by Amazon so they should have money and resources to implement features that readers have asked, reread, better search engine, features that people miss from shelfari, half star review etc.

    People dislike communism yet we have only one (main) operating system windows, one type cell phone (touchscreen), two types operating systems Android and iphone, one search engine google etc of course there are few smaller options, but those seem to be no acceptable if you want to be part of community.

    Like

    June 11, 2016
  16. I was away from shelfari for almost a year because I was in training and then sag the redirect… then wondered what happened… and then… got sad. I’ve had a Goodreads account since 2009 but a Shelfari for far far longer, and I liked the tagging system better in shelfari and the way they organized their books better. I’m so sad it’s gone, plus all of my read books from 2009-2016 has been deleted because yeah I never realized they were closing Shelfari. *sigh*

    Like

    July 3, 2016
    • I’m sorry to hear that you lost all your books. Library Thing has a good tagging system but doesn’t have the same nice look that shelfari had (no one has the nice shelves that I have found). Goodreads organized by shelves but their organization is not as nice as either library thing or shelfari. If you’re looking nice for categorization then I would recommend trying library thing. It not as user friendly (in my opinion) but definitely superior for cataloguing

      Like

      July 3, 2016
  17. Nicole Belle Isle #

    I never received an email notifying me that Shelfari was closing, and the site appears to be dead. That was the only record of all the books I have read for the last two decades. I am incredibly upset by the loss of this information. Is there any way for me to retrieve it? All I want is the precious csv file and I will be happy.

    Like

    July 8, 2016
    • I doubt it. You could try contacting goodreads and ask, but it looks like all the data is gone and now when you access the shelfari site it redirects to goodreads. I feel bad for you because I can imagine the devastation in losing all your data. As angry as I was at it shutting down, I did receive multiple emails from them warning me that it was shutting down and the home page had a large banner with shutdown information for a good 6 months before it actually closed. You could try contacting goodreads support and see what they tell you but I suspect that you will have to start over. So sorry😦

      Like

      July 8, 2016
  18. Oh goddamn, Amazon. There went all the data. I didn’t get no notice messages however. Not from amazon neither from shelfari about it in any point. Only message I have ever gotten was Shelfari was in 2010, the joining in notice. So… yeah… there goes everything from six years and beyond, it’s too much to ask that shelfari accounts had been imported in goodreads service. =…=
    All i can say is my consolences for loss. I know way too well how it feels. =..=

    Like

    July 10, 2016
    • Sorry😦

      Like

      July 10, 2016
    • Nicole #

      Actually I emailed support@goodreads.com and they sent me a csv file of all my books! So all is well on my end, I have my data and am a happy camper. Not sure I’ll bother importing to Goodreads, might just keep it in a spreadsheet:-)

      Liked by 1 person

      July 10, 2016
      • That’s good to hear!

        Like

        July 10, 2016
  19. Pradeep K #

    What pisses me most is that I’ve lost all the reviews I wrote on my books in Shelfari. Having to not only add and group, but also review all the books again in GR is impractical and a nuisance. Wish it weren’t so. Wish Amazon would have at least aided the transition by moving our shelf with all its data and groupings (read/reading/want to read/owned/reviews etc) from Shelfari over to GR before shutting down the former. But I guess one cannot expect any form of courtesy from Amazon.

    Like

    July 30, 2016
    • Well, when Shelfari was shutting down they had a message up for about 6 months with instructions on how to transfer to goodreads by exporting your csv file. Not the same as automatically transferring but they did offer something. Granted, I spend a good two weeks fixing all the errors in my file. I would contact goodreads support, one person posted the email address and ask them if they can recover your file. Someone else here did that and was able to get the file with their reviews. Hopefully you get some of that back. Good luck.

      Like

      July 30, 2016

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