19

Apr

Goodreads Case Study


NetHosting

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NetHosting

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System Specifications

Bandwidth (Why Low?): Goodreads doesn’t display large amounts of data on their site. In fact, most images aren’t anything more than a book cover, and they don’t stream videos (except occasionally on their blog).

CPU (Why Medium?): They definitely need some computing power to run all the features they provide as well as all the searches that are performed. However, these searches aren’t incredibly complex, so they only require a medium amount.

Disk (Why Medium?): They have to store a lot of information for each of their profiles, as well as descriptions and ratings for millions of books. However, they don’t have products, and they don’t have as many users as some of the giants, like Amazon or Facebook.

RAM (Why Medium?): They don’t need to worry about providing a seamless shopping experience, like giant E-retailers might. However, they do provide lists of genre-specific books and make lots of recommendations along the way.

Scalability (Why High?): Before their merger, this would have been low as Goodreads was notorious for their server issues. Since being bought out by Amazon, they now have access to their gargantuan data centers and servers.

Overview

Goodreads is a website created for readers and book recommendations. By creating an extremely user-friendly and feature-rich site, Goodreads has become the world’s largest website of its kind. Now accommodating over 16 million members, Goodreads was acquired by Amazon in March of 2013.

History

Goodreads launched in January of 2007 by cofounders Otis and Elizabeth Chandler. Otis realized that he would rather receive a book recommendation from a friend than from any other source. He decided to turn it into a website, and began writing the code in his living room and Elizabeth began writing the copy.

It grew very quickly, achieving 650 thousand members before the end of 2007, with over 10 million books added to their site. In 2011, Goodreads acquired a company called Discovereads, which is a book recommendation engine. This engine, now a core feature at Goodreads, allows users to find recommendations based on books read, books categorized as “to read,” or even by specific genres.

Currently, Goodreads boasts over 16 million members, 23 million reviews, and 525 million books added to users’ profiles. Their newsletter distributes to over 12 million users. This enormous success, coupled with the compatibility of the Kindle as well as massive book sales, led Amazon to acquire Goodreads on March 28, 2013. Goodreads will remain an independent entity and will retain the same staff.

Features

Goodreads is a social sharing site that allows all users to create their own profile. The site first prompts you to begin rating books on a 5-star scale. As soon as you rate your first 20 books, their book recommendation engine can begin finding books suited to you. Along with rating books, users are encouraged to add books to their “to-read” shelves and to mark the book they are currently reading. You can organize your “to-read” books in the order you want to read them.

The social aspect of the site allows for users to become friends with each other. They can compare their book lists and compare the ratings they’ve each given books. On the homepage, users can see what books their friends are reading as well as other activity.

Goodreads also allows you to set a goal for how many books you wish to read during the year. Whenever you select a book that you’ve read, you can set the date when you finished it. Or, when you select that you’ve finished the book you’re currently reading, Goodreads automatically records the date and adds it to books you’ve read during the year. Your profile will tell you how many books you’ve read this year, as well as how many total pages you’ve read. It even tracks if you’re on pace to reach your goal for the year.

Once per month, Goodreads will notify their users of what’s new in the literary world. Based on books you’ve rated and have selected for your “to read” list, Goodreads will inform you of books that are to be released soon as well as live chats they’ve scheduled with authors you like.

Their merger with Amazon has fueled rumors of many more features that may be seen in the near future. The possibility of syncing Goodread’s “now reading” feature could allow readers to avoid the hassle of manually inputting their current book and the date they finish. Furthermore, selecting a book that you’d like to read could be as easy as downloading to your Kindle straight from the Goodreads site.

To sum up their features, Goodreads’ main objective is to help you find books that you want to read, and then remember those books in one organized place. Between their recommendation engine (allowing searches based on books read, books you’ve listed as “to read,” and by genre) and friends’ ratings, Goodreads provides more than enough simple-to-use tools for finding books.

System

At the time of writing this, not much information can be found about the system that Goodreads uses. Before their merger with Amazon, they hosted with Hosting.com, and they used Nginx servers. However, Goodreads was notorious for their myriad of server issues, with their site frequently going down because of their inability to handle spikes in traffic.

However, because of their recent merger with Amazon, Goodreads should see an immediate improvement in their ability to handle traffic. They now have access to Amazon’s almost limitless resources and massive server capabilities. To read more about Amazon’s system, visit our Amazon Case Study.

Summary

Goodreads has grown in popularity incredibly fast because of their combination of superior features meshed with easy usability. Their union with Amazon should only increase their features as Amazon looks to sync Goodread’s capabilities with the Kindle. With over 4 books being added to users’ shelves per second, Goodreads isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Sources

Chandler, Otis. “About Goodreads.” http://www.goodreads.com/about/us. (April 16, 2013).

Chandler, Otis. “Exciting News About Goodreads: We’re Joining the Amazon Family!” http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/413-exciting-news-about-goodreads-we-re-joining-the-amazon-family. (April 16, 2013).

Hopkins, Curt. “Goodreads Buys Recommendation Service Discovereads.” Readwrite. http://readwrite.com/2011/03/10/goodreads_buys_recommendation_service_discovereads. (April 17, 2013)

Lee, Ellen. “Goodreads’ Otis Chandler reviews growth.” SFGate. http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Goodreads-Otis-Chandler-reviews-growth-3725030.php. (April 16, 2013).

About Cameron Smith

Cameron has read every book in his house at least three times and is an avid blogger on his site Build It Blogging. He loves sports and watches as much basketball as his wife lets him.



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