Secret agents: Algorithmic culture, Goodreads and datafication of the contemporary book world

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Goodreads, the Anglophone world’s dominant book-centric social-networking platform, is a compelling example of algorithmic selection of cultural goods. By exploring in detail Goodreads’s corporate history, financing arrangements and commodification of user-data, the article poses questions about the designed opacity of algorithmic selection processes, their self-perpetuating cultural effects, and potential privileging of the commercial interests of corporate owner Amazon. More broadly, the article ponders the optimal theoretical and methodological tools for examining the twenty-first-century book world. It ponders the shortcomings of standard book history approaches and canvasses what cultural and media studies frameworks may add. Given the increasing interpenetration of bookish dispositions and digital technologies, the article argues it is time for these disciplines themselves to merge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Goodreads
  • algorithmic culture
  • book history
  • cultural and media studies
  • Amazon
  • big data
  • recommendation
  • publishing
  • datamining
  • black box

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