Why I Don’t Use The StoryGraph

In the bookish community, The StoryGraph is often touted as the Goodreads alternative. It’s not Amazon and it’s consistently updated, which is appealing to a lot of people – including me.

I decided to give The StoryGraph a try, transferring over all my Goodreads data in the process. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with what I found, and decided to stick with Goodreads.

A lot of the posts I’ve seen on The StoryGraph are much more positive about the site. I wanted to add my differing opinion to the bookish community so you can take all this information into account to determine whether the site is for you.

Personally, I believe that any Amazon-owned alternative needs to be able to stand on its own to be a good alternative, offering more than being “not Amazon”. At this time, I don’t think StoryGraph has enough to offer to be a fully-fleshed alternative to Goodreads.

The StoryGraph lacks information about many books

When I imported my Goodreads library to The StoryGraph, I found myself having to manually input a good portion of books. Even if the book was already on The StoryGraph, I was often one of the first few people to leave a review, add mood tags, add content warnings, and more. It just got tedious after awhile, especially when I knew I wouldn’t have to do this work on Goodreads.

And these weren’t super obscure books either. Take “A Murder Like No Author” by Amy Lillard for example. At the time of me writing this post, on The StoryGraph, it has 5 ratings and only 1 review with text. On Goodreads, it has 145 ratings and 76 reviews with text.

If you’re looking to find out more about a book – which is what a lot of people use a site like Goodreads for – a lack of written reviews isn’t very helpful. I also noticed that reviews on the StoryGraph tend to be shorter than reviews on Goodreads, which doesn’t help either.

Will this improve as The StoryGraph gains more users? Probably, but I don’t know how long this will take to happen or if it will ever happen. And honestly, I’m not patient enough to stick around waiting for this.

The way content warnings are included aren’t very useful

Something you might see if you look up a less popular book

For every book, there’s a section where readers can add content warning tags and look through the content warning tags others have left. Content warnings can also be split into different ‘levels’ – graphic, moderate, and minor. The StoryGraph also enables authors to add their own content warnings if they’d like.

I know people have different thoughts about the usefulness of content warnings. But, for those who’re interested in content warnings, I don’t know how useful they are when they’re delivered in tag format. Because content warnings depend on what readers (and the author) includes, and people don’t always flag this information in their reviews.

For example, the tag “sexual content” can be used as a content warning on the StoryGraph, but it’s quite vague. Is the sexual content on-page or off-page? If it’s on-page, how explicit is this content? How often does it appear? What’s the difference between graphic, moderate, and minor sexual content?

I feel like content warnings are more useful when someone can contextualize them and elaborate on them in the review itself. Which goes back to the issue of the lack of written reviews on The StoryGraph.

On Goodreads, many reviewers will offer content warnings and explain why they gave the warning. Even if a reviewer doesn’t explicitly note something as a content warning, readers can easily search reviews for what they’re interested in learning more about.This is something that The StoryGraph doesn’t offer. Personally, I don’t find the content warnings on The StoryGraph useful and the lack of written reviews on the site doesn’t help.

How useful are mood and pacing tags?

Another thing that The StoryGraph has that Goodreads doesn’t is the ability to add additional information about the book. For example, you can add mood tags (eg. reflective, inspiring, funny, mysterious) and pacing tags (eg. slow, medium, fast). These tags will also show up when you search for books.

If this is something you think you’re interested in, The StoryGraph would be great for you. However, I question how useful these tags are for readers.

It’s a similar problem with content warning. People’s thoughts on a book are always subjective and a simple label doesn’t provide much information. Are all mystery novels ‘mysterious’ because that’s the point of the novel, or is ‘mysterious’ meant to evoke a different feeling? What does it mean for a book to be ‘medium’ vs. ‘fast’?

Also, according to someone who identified themselves as a StoryGraph employee on Reddit, the StoryGraph used (and perhaps still uses) a trained neural network to guess the moods based on the information it has… which could lead to incorrect mood/pacing depending on how good the neural network is.

It’s a nice idea but seeing how it works in practise, I don’t love it, and it doesn’t entice me to use The StoryGraph. Honestly, I’d rather not see them and I don’t think there’s an option to turn them off.

The StoryGraph lacks socialization options

Goodreads has many socialization options, including the opportunity to chat in group forums, friend people, direct message them, and more. I personally like that these options are available, as I find it a great way to connect to the bookish community.

On the other hand, The StoryGraph doesn’t really have any socialization options. This creators purposefully chose to create the site this way – no discussions, no ability to like reviews, no forums, etc. They do have a buddy read option that A Book Owl’s Corner and First Line Reader wrote about, but that’s the only big one I know of.

If this is what you’re looking for, then this will be a great fit. But, if you really like socializing with people about books, then The StoryGraph won’t be for you.


I know many people use and like The StoryGraph, but after trying it for a bit, it isn’t the platform for me.

Have you tried The StoryGraph? Do you think it’s a good alternative to Goodreads?

24 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use The StoryGraph

  1. abookowlscorner May 30, 2022 / 2:36 pm

    This was a super interesting discussion, Mint! I personally do prefer StoryGraph over Goodreads, I think, but that’s because I mostly just use both platforms to track my reading. I don’t care all that much about the social aspect of those platforms – I use WordPress for that 😁 – and I also personally don’t like to read trigger warnings (I have no trouble reading pretty much anything and hate being accidentally spoiled for major plot points by them). Nor do I look at reviews before I’ve read a book myself. So, what’s more important to me is how suitable a platform is for giving me an overview of what I’ve read. And I just think StoryGraph does that so much better! I love that I can give more nuanced ratings on there and all those statistics are just so satisfying to look at!

    I do agree with you, though, that it’d be nice if StoryGraph had a bigger selection of reviews. Because after I’ve read and reviewed a book myself, I do want to know what other people thought! But I guess to get more variety there, we’ll just have to wait a while and contribute to the reviews ourselves… πŸ˜…

    Anyway, great post, and I can totally see why you want to steer clear of StoryGraph! Also, thanks so much for shouting out Line’s and my buddy-reading discussion! I’m glad you liked it! πŸ’™

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 2:06 am

      The discussion inspired this post, so thank you for writing it! The problem of lack of reviews is a really hard one to fix and I debated even including it in this post for that reason.

      I think it will be tough for some people (like me) to stay if there aren’t enough reviews… but also the site depends on users to leave reviews.

      I wonder this issue is partly due to marketing. My impression was that The StoryGraph was better for YA or genres that have a lot of younger readers, since it’s mostly in younger reading spaces that I hear about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • abookowlscorner May 31, 2022 / 11:38 am

        Interesting! πŸ€” I’ve never really noticed who predominantly uses or talks about Storygraph, but I guess it makes sense that the platform would attract younger readers first. I mean, that’s kind of the case with all new internet trends, isn’t it? But yeah, I guess all we can do is see how things develop in the future! Maybe at some point, those reviews will start pouring in and make the platform more attractive to a broader audience! πŸ™ƒ

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Celeste May 30, 2022 / 4:06 pm

    I joined The Storygraph this year mainly for the charts because I wanted a general graphical depiction of my reads. I don’t think their graph system is perfect because it’s based off of user input (like the moods), but I think the general insight into my reading preferences is interesting. However, I don’t use it for reading reviews. I think you’re right in that Goodreads is still superior in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 2:03 am

      I think the stats is where The StoryGraph really does well, since that’s not something Goodreads offers at all. It seems to me that their strengths lay more in things that Goodreads doesn’t do, while they advertise themselves as *the* alternative to Goodreads… which isn’t really true at this point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kristina May 30, 2022 / 6:09 pm

    I have yet to transfer over, so thank you for the counter opinion that others havent talked about yet!

    While I don’t quite use the socialisation of goodreads, im worried about the lack of book details & review. Sure, the website is rather new and not enough reviewers yet- but that bring me another worry. I can even find my FR books on my shelves on GR.. and they would still have a few comments- so on storygraph, they would most probably be inexistant. Which is kinda eh for me, because who needs two different website for book searching?

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    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 1:32 pm

      Yeah, that’s where I’m at with the site right now. Maybe it’ll get better in the future but I don’t want to buy into a product now because of a promise that it *could* get better.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Krysta May 31, 2022 / 6:53 am

    The main reason I haven’t looked into StoryGraph is because it does seem less well-known and so I expect it to have less content. Also, people I know don’t use it. It seems mainly popular in the online bookish community, and isn’t something the general public knows about or uses.

    I did find the mood tags interesting because that’s something NoveList offers (and you can search for books by those tags). And…I never understood who chooses them or if it’s enough for a book to be a read-alike just because it has the same “mood.” Like if I just finished a quirky middle-grade fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval world with goblins and elves, the database will suggest something like a magical realism book set in the present day because they are both “mysterious” and “somber” or something, and I just don’t get it. I think finding read-alikes is an art, and I’m not sure a mood tag is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 1:34 pm

      It’s a hard art for even humans to match! Moods are so subjective and I think those tags just create more ambiguity than necessary. A lot of mysteries also get the “mysterious” tag so you’d see those too (but isn’t the mysterious part the whole point of the genre!?)

      I agree that it seems mostly confined to the online bookish community. I’ve never heard about it anywhere else. Which is fine, it can fill a great niche within our community. But it doesn’t match with the marketing of “the anti-Amazon alternative” that they sell themselves with.

      Like

  5. Line @First Line Reader May 31, 2022 / 9:06 am

    I also prefer Goodreads to Storygraph so this post felt kind of satisfying to read πŸ˜„ I still use Storygraph because I want to see how it develops, but so far it’s still missing most of my favorite features from Goodreads like quotes and being able to see what genre other readers have shelved a book as. And then there’s just the overall clunkiness of Storygraph. Like, why is there no way for me to see a full list of all the books I’ve read?

    I don’t read reviews or content warnings so those aren’t the problems for me but I see your point about them. I completely agree with you on the pointlessness of the mood tags. I actually wrote a post about that last year where I took a closer look at those tags for specific books to see if I agreed with them. I didn’t disagree with everything but enough that I don’t need to use them or the stats feature that is based on them. It’s all so subjective! And they also ask you to decide whether a book is plot or character-driven, and not to be mean, but in my experience, people don’t know the difference πŸ˜…

    I also agree on the socializing thing because I think it’s so weird that you can add friends, ‘like’ what they read but you have no way of talking to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 1:40 pm

      Reviews are so subjective as it is. Just adding one word or phrase just ups the subjectivity for me!

      I love that the people at The StoryGraph seem to be readers themselves but I wonder how much experience they have with the web side of things. Most sites allow you to talk to your friends in some way, why did they add a friend feature without that option?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mystereity Reviews May 31, 2022 / 11:21 am

    You have some valid points, but Storygraph is still a pretty new site; it’s only been around for a year or 2, so it’s still evolving and a lot of your points are on their roadmap for improvements.. They recently added the ability to add missing information (which I love, since their system doesn’t import covers, so I just add manually to make sure all the correct info is there) and although there’s not much in the way of social engagement, it has come a long way. Storygraph fits my vibe, as I’m an anti-social introvert just looking to see what others think of the books I want to read so I have a good idea if I’m going to read them πŸ™‚ I do have to say, the trigger warning tags….I don’t get it. Actually, I don’t get a lot of it – the moods? content warnings? They mean little to me, so I just click a few buttons. I may have just said a book is “reflective” and “challenging ” and is it? I don’t know, sounded good to me.

    Goodreads is just too slow, too clumsy, too cluttered and too….I don’t know, Amazon-y? I added a book to my Goodreads TBR and shortly after got an email from Amazon alerting me that the book was about to be published and to preorder now. Ugh. No. Just no. So done with Goodreads, I spend as little time on there as possible (and really, only because I have to for Netgalley!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 1:38 pm

      I’m just an impatient person, I think. I don’t want to wait for a time in the future when the product could get better, I want to start using a good product now. I wonder if The StoryGraph would’ve been better suited waiting until they had more features, then launching instead of launching and adding as they go.

      I think my main problem is that The StoryGraph sells itself as *the* Goodreads alternative but it isn’t really. There’s a lot that’s different and I think it suits some readers like you really well, but it turns off others.

      Maybe it’d be better off marketing itself as the clean, user-shaped Goodreads for introverted readers?

      Like

  7. Ann May 31, 2022 / 5:27 pm

    I used Library Thing and just Story Graph it lacks some key feature that GR has. It great with cataloging books but not at it socializing features.

    I think I had a Story Graph account but forgot about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint May 31, 2022 / 9:51 pm

      From reading your comment and others I get the sense that The StoryGraph is really good for people who like data/cataloguing books but not for anyone who likes reading reviews or socializing with others. And Goodreads’ catalogue is very good so… it’s hard for The StoryGraph to break through.

      Like

  8. Beth W June 2, 2022 / 4:13 am

    I use The StoryGraph *and* Goodreads. The StoryGraph isn’t a book database, as Goodreads is- I think that’s where that unfair comparison comes in. The StoryGraph is a book recommendation site, designed to help you pick your next book based on mood, genres, tropes, etc. The more information people put in there, the better the site is because it has a wider pool of data to select from. Goodreads, conversely, is a database of books. Sure, you can rate and review the ones you’ve read, but it’s seriously lacking in suggesting your next read (especially if you’re a mood reader). I think they serve two totally different purposes.

    But also, The StoryGraph was developed by a Black woman, and Goodreads is managed by a corporate monolith with more money than they can spend, so expecting them to be interchangeable is unrealistic. It’s unfortunate that this misconception is out there, that StoryGraph is ‘like Goodreads’, because it harms StoryGraph when people try it with totally unrealistic expectations. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint June 2, 2022 / 12:53 pm

      The more I think about it, the more I think The StoryGraph’s marketing is to blame. The thing is, the StoryGraph openly advertises itself as the non-Amazon Goodreads alternative. In this way, it naturally invites comparisons to Goodreads even though the two sites aren’t the same. Also, Goodreads has a lot of built in advantages like the massive amount of money behind it or its decades of being online and it’s naturally going to be hard for newer sites to compete.

      There’s definitely a lot of interest in Amazon alternative sites and reading sites that are more responsive to reader needs so I can see why they’d advertise themselves that way, but also I think the Goodreads comparison could set up a lot of people for disappointment because like you said, Goodreads is a database while The StoryGraph seems to be better at recommendations. Instead, maybe advertising it as a non-Amazon site that’s for readers, by readers and advertising its unique features could help?

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  9. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators June 8, 2022 / 6:32 am

    This was such an interesting discussion! Like you said, I’ve mostly seen praise for The Storygraph, so it was very interesting to read from your perspective. Currently I use both Goodreads and The Storygraph, because the two serve different functions for me.

    I use Goodreads to see the average rating and synopsis and general info about the book. I also use it to keep track of what I read. I use The Storygraph for the content warnings, and the stats.

    To me, I find the content warnings useful because even if they are just tags, it lets me know if I need to do more research. I’m also pretty stringent about avoiding my triggers in all forms, so even if it’s a brief mention I’ll probably avoid the book, which is why a mere tag system is enough for me. As for the stats, I really do enjoy the graphs and charts The Storygraph creates since I’m a total stats nerd!

    For now I’m fine using both of them simultaneously to keep track of everything. There may come a point where I decide to just stick with one platform, but that day hasn’t arrived just yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint June 8, 2022 / 12:52 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I’ve seen many people saying that they use The StoryGraph with Goodreads, or that it serves a different purpose. Which is so interesting to me because of how The StoryGraph advertises itself as the Goodreads alternative. However, it seems that it works better as a complement rather than a replacement.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction June 21, 2022 / 7:47 pm

    I 100% agree with you. I uploaded my Goodreads list to StoryGraph when it first came out and then… just never really did anything with it again. And, yeah, the main problem is that Goodreads is where the people are. I don’t honestly know how anything is ever going to draw everyone away enough to really gain a lot of traction. StoryGraph just hasn’t managed it (and neither has any other site). I have nothing against the site, but I see no compelling reason to switch unless everyone else does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint June 21, 2022 / 10:22 pm

      I think the trick is not to advertise a new book site as a Goodreads alternative but rather, to highlight the specific things that they do well and to work on their own growth. A site like The Library Thing, which has a lot of customizable tracking options isn’t going to compete with Goodreads but it has things of its own that make it stand out.

      Like

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