January 27, 2022

On Discovery, Ebook Formats, and More: Results of a Goodreads Member Survey

Goodreads has posted the results of a user survey that touches on many topics that will likely be of interest to many of you. The results were first shared by Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads at the Tools of Change conference a couple of weeks ago. The slide presentation (embedded below) was made available earlier this week.

From a summary blog post:

On Discovery

Goodreads surveyed members and asked them what convinced them to read the two of the most popular Goodreads titles from 2012.

The two choices were Gone Girl (which was the most reviewed book on Goodreads in 2012 and the winner of the Mystery & Thriller category in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards) and The Night Circus (a debut novel from 2011, which was a finalist in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards).


A recommendation from a trusted friend was the clear winner for both books. This reinforces other industry studies and also underlines something we’ve long believed: Books are one of the strongest social objects that exist.

Goodread members do say the the library was one of the places that they first heard about the two most popular books of 2012. Friends, media, Goodreads, Goodread Choice Awards, Amazon.com, and bookstores ranked higher.

On Format Choice

  • 37% of our survey respondents read e-books on their cell phones. Of these,
    • 72% read e-books on their cell phones while commuting or waiting in line
    • 13% say that their cell phone is the only device they use to read e-books
    • A surprising, but still small, number of people noted in the “Other” response option that they use their cell phone as a backup device. For example, one member wrote that she uses her cell phone to read e-books “when my child has my Kindle.” We think if we’d given this as an option that we would have seen a high enough percentage to have included “use as backup e-book reading device” in the top responses.
  • 86% of survey respondents who own a tablet read e-books on the device. Of these,
    • 74% use their tablets to read around the home
    • 68% read e-books with their tablets in bed
    • Almost a third (32%) say that the tablet is the only device they use to read e-books

On Acquisition of Ebooks

We also took a look at how locked in people are to their e-reader devices. Surprisingly, we found that almost three quarters (73%) of e-book readers shop around for the best price at least sometimes. And 20% always shop around for the best price.

Where did members actually acquire the book?

For this question, score one for libraries!

Libraries were at the top of the list as the place where Goodread users acquired the two books beating Amazon, direct from the Kindle device, independent bookstores, and many other sources.

The summary and complete report (embedded below) has MUCH more including many useful charts.

Finally, the slides do not share any info about survey methodology. We’ve asked Goodreads and will update if/when we hear back.

See Also: Pew Internet Releases New Findings About eBook Readers, Devices, and Awareness of eBook Services in U.S. Public Libraries

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.