For many bookworms, Goodreads is part and parcel of their reading lives. Goodreads, however, has been criticized for many things, above all its “outdated” and “archaic” design. Hence, some readers are on the hunt for Goodreads-like alternatives. In recent years, many of these Goodreads lookalikes have popped up, including one called BookSloth. BookSloth is a good alternative, but is it worth ditching Goodreads for good? Before we answer this million-dollar question, let’s look at what it has to offer.
BookSloth, in general, is very social — it puts emphasis on allowing readers to join a community and connect with fellow bookworms. Like other social networking sites, it has followers and following tabs, too. Interestingly, the BookSloth app looks a lot like Instagram. Much like Goodreads, users can review books and buy them as well. Upon clicking the buy button, users are redirected to Amazon.
For now, the app is totally free, and there’s no paywall to prevent access to its advanced features.
Setting Up a BookSloth Account
The BookSloth app is available on Android and iOS. Upon installation, users can sign up using their existing Facebook, Google, or email accounts.
After that, the mobile app will prompt users to pick their favorite genres and preferred reading elements, namely story, worldbuilding, writing style, characters, romance, and perspective.
Then, it’s all about personalization and fine-tuning.
The Mobile App vs. the Web App
Like other internet services, the mobile app and the web app versions of BookSloth offer slightly different experiences.
Readers can edit their profiles on the mobile app, but not on the web app. The web app, while it offers a similar feel, is very limited in its features. As a result, readers are prompted to download the mobile app for the full BookSloth experience.
Users can also import their Goodreads books, but this is only available on the mobile app. This is a handy feature if users want to quit Goodreads or if they don’t want the burden of adding books manually. The process is very easy; users only have to export the .csv file from their Goodreads’ library (here’s how) and upload it to BookSloth.
If importing a large library, it takes a while for books to completely appear on BookSloth. On the other hand, if importing a single book only, users can just paste the Goodreads book URL within BookSloth.
Another thing is that the web app shows all custom bookshelves imported from Goodreads. However, these don’t show up on the mobile app aside from the TBR and Read bookshelves.
Reading stats, however, are only available on the web app. In there, readers can see the number of books read, number of pages read, books reviewed, badges given, top genres, top badges, top authors, etc.
BookSloth’s Unique Features
Upon signing up successfully, readers are greeted by five tabs on the mobile app: Home, Discover, Community, Activity, and Profile.
The Home tab features Books You’ve Added and Suggested Readers to follow, which matches a user to members with whom they have lots of books in common. Basically, what’s in there are the personal things that are unique to a user’s account.
The Discover tab displays upcoming releases in a user’s favorite genres; it’s like a bookish news bulletin. Aside from that, it also shows books that are recommended for the user, Top Book Clubs on BookSloth, and other curated lists.
The Community tab shows threads or discussions from members. Users can start their own discussion threads, reply to other members’ posts, or just like them. When a user creates their own post, it shows up in this tab. When replying to someone’s post, users can add a reply type (or filter) such as Recommendation, Ask, and Challenge.
In the Activity tab, users can see their Reading Progress and Book Challenges, and the Profile tab shows their Read and TBR bookshelves.
Single Book Page and Book Reviews
When viewing a single book, users can find usual buttons like Add Book, Review, and Buy Book.
Perhaps, one of BookSloth’s most unique features is the Book Clubs, an answer to Goodreads’ Groups. Book Clubs are like a support group for a book. When a user clicks Create a Club, it takes them to a group chat-like forum, if there’s already an existing one. Before joining a Book Club, users can see how many forum members a book currently has. A user can also add other members to these group chats.
If a Book Club has discussions in which there might be spoilers, the BookSloth app warns users.
As for the reviews, it works similarly to Goodreads. When reviewing, users can rate by selecting stars, and they can add or subtract 0.5 points, too. Users can also select the Reading Elements mentioned before. The difference with Goodreads is that on BookSloth, these Reading Elements take the center stage.
Users can read other members’ reviews as well. However, it seems they can’t comment or like others’ reviews for now.
When it comes to design, BookSloth looks refreshingly modern and sleek. The pages are easy to navigate, unlike Goodreads, which can sometimes be intimidating and clunky.
The mobile app can adapt to the dark mode setting of smartphones, too, which is helpful for those using the app at night.
BookSloth Cons: What I Didn’t Like
The first thing that I noticed on BookSloth is the small community, which is, I think, a common problem with Goodreads-like apps. They are good alternatives, sure, but few people use them. Hence, readers like me are left with no choice but to keep our Goodreads accounts.
Another thing that will probably drive users off BookSloth is the limited opportunities to interact with other users. For an app that looks like Instagram, there’s no way to comment on other users’ reviews or even like them. This will probably make it hard to build an active community on BookSloth.
I also noticed that readers have no ways of interacting with their favorite authors or creators; there are no dedicated pages for contributors like authors, editors, and the like. If BookSloth seriously wants to take on Goodreads, then it should implement this basic feature.
As for the mobile app, the Home tab is devoid of an active and personal news feed. While there’s a Community tab for that, there’s no way to unfollow people and hide posts. I also don’t see updates from the members I followed. And even though I visit their profiles, their normal posts don’t show up.
BookSloth, for the most part, is English-centric as well. Books in other languages are rare. I did a couple of searches of buzzworthy books in Spanish, and I couldn’t even find them within the mobile app. To add a book to their database, I still needed to fill out a Google form.
Lastly, the web app is basically useless. I can’t comment on posts in the Community tab, and I can’t even follow members even though I’m checking out their profiles.
BookSloth Review: Verdict
BookSloth is a good alternative if readers don’t mind the small community. It’s worth ditching Goodreads if they don’t want the social aspect, and just want to track what they’re reading. However, if the community size is a deal breaker, I suggest that they stick to Goodreads or other similar apps that fulfill their needs.
BookSloth still lacks many basic features, but it doesn’t cost a dime to join. All features are free, unlike StoryGraph, which requires users to pay a monthly subscription fee to access advanced options.
For more on reading apps, check out free reading apps.