Have you ever found yourself at the end of a good book, not wanting to put it down for fear of losing good reading material? Have you been searching for that perfect book to take you to far off lands, teach you that skill nobody else has, or help you gain the upper hand in your career? Have you read something amazing that you think your friends might enjoy? Well now you can find that perfect book and share it with others from your favorite devices. Goodreads is an innovative social networking platform built just for readers! Features include community book reviews, a searchable book database, author biographies, the ability to follow your favorite authors for the latest updates, and a handy news feed to keep up with what your friends are reading. There are several platforms to accomodate everyone, including the website, the app for iOS devices, and the Android app. This article provides an overview of how to navigate Goodreads for iOS, along with an explanation of some key features.
Layout and First Time Use
Upon first opening the app, the user will be prompted to either sign in or create a free Goodreads account. If you have a Facebook account, you can use your credentials to sign up. The advantage to doing this is that your Facebook friends are readily accessible, and Goodreads can show you which of your friends already use the app. However, if you wish to keep all of your social networks separate, you can also create a Goodreads specific account. Next, you will be shown how to search for friends on Goodreads. From this screen, you can quickly add multiple people to your friends list right from the start.
Now that you’ve created a free account and added some friends, you’re ready to begin using the app. The layout is similar to other iOS apps, with tabs along the bottom of the screen which allow you to change the page you are shown. VoiceOver users can navigate between these tabs by touching the bottom of the screen, preferably the bottom left corner which should speak the first tab. Once there, swipe right to move to the next tab, or left to move to the previous tab. To select a tab, double tap it. Goodreads presents the following tabs, in left to right order:
The Home tab
This tab presents you with a feed where you can view what your friends have been reading, book recommendations, author updates, and more. To interact with a feed item, double tap it. Or, if you wish, simply press the Like button under it to give it a positive reaction and allow Goodreads to show you similar content. You can either add friends to Goodreads using Facebook, or you can add friends who already use the app. At the top of this tab, you will see a search box, where you can enter a name, title, author, or ISBN of a book you’d like to look up. This feature allows you to quickly search for books anywhere in the app.
This tab allows you to browse your bookshelves. At the top are the books you are currently reading. Below this are buttons which will take you to either the To-Read or Read bookshelves. If either of these shelves are selected, you will be presented with a list of books currently added. To return to the previous screen, simply double tap the Back button at the top left of your screen. At this time, it is unfortunately not possible to edit books currently listed on your shelves from within the app; however, these changes can be made on the Goodreads website.
If you are browsing your shelves and wish to view more detail about a particular title, simply double tap it. This takes you to a page where you can view the book’s description, read reviews, follow the author, and even purchase the eBook in some cases. Once you’ve finished viewing the book details, you can return to the bookshelf by double tapping the Back button at the top left corner of your screen. For books on your Currently Reading shelf, there is an additional Update Progress button, located beneath the book title. This allows you to enter in a page number, chapter, or other book position as a progress indicator to identify how far along in the book you’ve gotten. You can also indicate here that you’ve finished a book.
This tab allows you to search for a book by title, author, or ISBN. Simply type your search query into the search box at the top of the screen by double tapping it and entering text, then double tap the Search button. A list of results will be presented. These can be either titles of books, or authors that have been added to Goodreads. Double tapping any option will bring up more details.
This tab allows you to scan the barcode located on the cover of a physical book. This is handy if you have purchased a printed book and would like to know if there is an eBook available, or if you have read it and wish to write a review. Your scanned books will appear here, so once a barcode is scanned, you don’t have to scan it again.
Upon first selecting the Scan button, you will be instructed to align the edges of the view finder with the barcode. If you have enough vision, ensure that the borders of your frame allow the whole code to fit. Otherwise, feel for the product packaging, and a rectangular sticker which indicates a barcode and position the camera so that it is 6 inches above. A Light button allows you to toggle the camera’s flash. Next, double tap the unlabeled button, which indicates Scan. If it has scanned successfully, you will be presented with book information such as title, author, eBook availability, etc.
This is a miscellaneous tab where everything else such as profile information, friends, groups, etc, is placed. A Notifications button is the first item, and when selected, allows you to view important notifications from friends, groups, authors, and Goodreads recommendations that you’ve set up. If you haven’t enabled push notifications the first time you select this button, Goodreads will ask if you wish to do this. It is not mandatory, and all notifications can be accessed directly through the app by going to this Notifications button in the future; however, should you wish to enable them, you can simply double tap Okay on this screen. When you’ve finished with Notifications, simply return to the previous screen by double tapping the Back button.
The next item is the Messages button. This allows you to read and respond to private messages from within the app. It works exactly like a mailbox. Often, groups will post messages here.
Friend requests are also listed here. You can add and respond directly to friend requests within the app.
Next, you will find a link to edit your profile. When selected, this provides you with options for editing things such as profile picture and status update. Unfortunately, editing is highly limited in the iOS version of Goodreads, though it is hoped that this will be improved soon.
Books are also listed here. While there is a dedicated tab for books, they are also shown here in greater detail if you select the books option, including all your past reads.
The recommendations section shows a list of books recommended for you by Goodreads based on books you’ve read and authors you follow. This list will improve with time and may become more accurate as you continue to read and review material through the app.
The Reading Challenge section shows books that are selected by Goodreads for their monthly challenge.
The Explore section allows you to browse books and authors. This is great if you’ve run out of reading material or are just looking for something fresh.
The Friends section lists all of your friends on Goodreads. Double tapping a name will bring up their profile and feed items.
The Groups section shows you a list of groups you are a part of. To add groups, visit the Goodreads website and do a search for your favorite interest. There’s bound to be a group on the subject. Usually, there are groups dedicated to specific authors, genres, or book series’. Whatever your fancy, you are sure to find a group of readers who share the same interests as you.
The Events section allows you to view any upcoming Goodreads author events. Often, Goodreads will announce events put on by authors or organizations, and these will be announced here. They may be book reviews, readings, or signings.
Best Books are books that have been chosen as popular in the last year. These will be presented in this section.
The final section at the bottom just above the tabs is the Settings. Here you can modify what types of notifications you receive from Goodreads, privacy settings, etc.
Conclusion and final thoughts
This tutorial has provided a brief introduction to a profoundly innovative app. It is hoped that Goodreads will enhance the reading experiences of many and provide valuable resources. In today’s age of technology, television, and mobile devices, it almost seems as if reading has gone by the wayside; but with apps such as Goodreads, awareness of great literature can spread further than ever before. Now go forth, find a good book, and share it with the world! You have the power of Goodreads!