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Lessons Learned from Lauren Howard’s Goodreads Incident

Posted on 2013-Aug-26

by BB eBooks Staff

Talk of the Town

Following an infamous incident leaving Lauren Howard pulling her books from Goodreads, there have been so many responses pouring in the community full of book-craving citizens: authors, readers, reviewers. The reason you may never heard of her name before could be her aspiring author status trying to promote a debut novel “Learning to Love.” For all we know, Goodreads was her initial promotional channel that earned her the kind of publicity she might not have expected.

2-Star Instigation


The problem started when 2 stars were handed out to her debut book of which had never been released in the public yet. The real dispute escalated when she responded to the humble rating and got herself entangled within a web of abusive claims on the book discovery website. In one board of discussion on Goodreads, the user that goes by the screen name of Derrick posted a one star review for the book. No matter where you may have found the article about this subject, it got people talking extensively. Different reports are brought up to everyone’s attention: death threats, screenshots to prove trolling comments, and possible explanation about Howard’s incident, etc.

Author-bashing Criticism


While there are different opinions about the ideal state book reviewing should be, several responses from external parties bring in fresh efforts to lessen the negative effects of author-bashing behavior. Stop the GR Bullies website shows several screenshots that have intentionally been made about the books and authors. According to GoodEReader citing one of the Goodreads’ moderators, Athena, they are trying to stop author-bashing comments, provide the option for authors to flag to the potential abuse, or ask for help from Goodreads manager.

Surprising Support

Earlier, Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon named her blog title in question and tried to stitch the picture together describing what had happened. Reading today unfortunately demonstrates nonexistent proofs when online sources have been erased. Mary did follow up Howard’s response and discovered a reverting trend that Goodreads users gave the unreleased book four stars. Despite Lauren’s last comment not to release her debut novel, the book garnered 4.70 points based on 188 ratings.


Big Picture


Onto something more critical and dead serious about the entire incident, Porter Anderson expresses his neutral tone via Jane Friedman’s blog titled “When Bad Things (Seem To) Happen on Good Sites.” Apart from reporting what has been repeated in the blogosphere everywhere, the writer discusses a possible solution from Goodreads how they will respond to threatening comments. Moving on, he picks up the sense of confusion surrounding Howard’s introspective tweets yet provides insights how the bullying situation could happen now.

Having reflected upon how rapid Goodreads has grown and how large the scale of their users have interacted, perhaps the book discovery company has a lot to catch up with their massive readers. There are several perspectives you can look into this incident. Apart from whatever happened to Lauren, we can also count on the company’s regulatory system to monitor inappropriate comments and delete the user’s account that violates their policy.

His voice of reason continues to shed some light on the receiving end, “we,” that “careful reaction” is needed. Patience to check facts and allow some time for conflicts to reveal themselves is essential to make sure that we will not become “alarmists” who “spread the word” that we cannot see clearly. In the concluding sentence, the writer warns the argument over books.

Lessons Learned

As much as books are important to human’s mental development, reading and giving opinions about books should be dealt with carefully and responsibly. Perhaps, this incident might be open to interpretation not only by Goodreads managerial staff, but general book lovers do stand a chance to study what impact book rating can have and how to prevent negative criticism steals the best moment from clouding the reader’s judgment of a book that has not been officially released.

Label: Marketing

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