Last week, in celebration of the site reaching 50 million reviews, Goodreads shared an infographic loaded with statistics. Included in the graphic was a chart that breaks down how Goodreads members rate books, with 37% rating five star, 34% four star, 21% three star, 6% two star and 2% one star, meaning that readers choose the five star option most often.
Though the percentages for four and five star ratings are fairly close, my first thought was how different Goodreads seems from my perspective, where five star ratings pop up fairly rarely in my friends feed and many books seem to average just below a four. Even my own ratings, which I often feel skew too high, averaged 3.8 last year. Is the overall Goodreads experience that much different?
In a way it makes sense that one and two star ratings would be so low, since readers may give up on books that would otherwise fall into those low rating categories and many choose not to rate books they don’t finish. Nailing down the source of all the fives is a little trickier, but I think it comes down to quantity. The infographic notes that the most reviewed book on Goodreads is The Hunger Games, with over four million ratings and over two million of them are five stars. For comparison, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life has just over 29,000 reviews.
This all tends to highlight some of the problems I’ve had with the site’s ratings. While I see how they can be useful for a quick opinion, I’ve found that a book’s overall rating is not usually very helpful in deciding whether or not I want to read something. For that, I have to look to my friends.
Do you think we should see more of a normal curve when it comes to the overall reviews on Goodreads, with three being the most common? What do you think this means about how dependable Goodreads ratings are?