How To Migrate From Shelfari To Goodreads

Simon Slangen 25-03-2013

shelfari to goodreadsShelfari and Goodreads are both online tools to manage your book collection. Both websites help you create lists of books read and books yet to read, with reviews to help you decide and tips from friends to keep you going. Shelfari and Goodreads were previously covered in 4 Great Ways To Keep Track Of Your Expanding Book Collection Goodreads Reviewed: A Must-Use Site For Any Book Lover If you enjoy reading, and like to use the Internet for finding great new reads, you may well have heard of Goodreads before: This is a superb website hosting a vibrant community of book lovers,... Read More . Only a month ago, Erez wrote up an in-depth review of Goodreads Goodreads Reviewed: A Must-Use Site For Any Book Lover If you enjoy reading, and like to use the Internet for finding great new reads, you may well have heard of Goodreads before: This is a superb website hosting a vibrant community of book lovers,... Read More .


I got started with Goodreads, but moved to Shelfari for its visual appeal. Shelfari’s integration with Amazon also added to the bargain. Nevertheless, last week I decided to move back to Goodreads. Don’t misunderstand, I still love Shelfari something fierce, but the resource-heavy website and its lack of mobile apps or even an API were dealbreakers for me.

By this time, I had already amassed a few hundred books on Shelfari. I was determined to take as much data with me during the move. Read on, and I’ll help you do the same.


You won’t need much to be able to follow this tutorial. Just make sure you’ve already created an account on Goodreads. You’ll also need a spreadsheet editor. You can use Microsoft Excel, iWork Numbers, LibreOffice, or another data wrangler of choice. The spreadsheet editor needs to be able to import TSV files (tab separated values) , apply custom date formatting and export to CSV files (comma separated values).

We’ll be using the free spreadsheet editor from Google Drive. The process is slightly more convoluted, but this allows you to follow the tutorial regardless of your operating system. It may help to keep the Google Docs cheatsheet at hand.

1. Export Shelfari Data

Shelfari allows you to export your data very easily. Log into Shelfari and select account settings in the top right corner. Select the Shelf tab.


shelfari to goodreads

At the bottom of the page is a download link that lets you download a tab-separated file of all your books, ratings, dates read, and so on.

2. Import Data In Google Drive

Go to Google Drive and log into your account. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll have to make one now, or use a different spreadsheet editor.

migrate shelfari or goodreads


Create a new spreadsheet and select the import option from the file menu on the webpage. Browse to the file you downloaded from Shelfari in the previous step and select ‘Replace spreadsheet‘ as your import action. Press import. If all went well, you should now see your Shelfari data in the spreadsheet.

3. Transfer Shelves Data

When I first imported my data from Shelfari, all the books ended up on my ‘read’ bookshelf. If you want to keep the shelves data from Shelfari, you’ll have to change some data in your spreadsheet.

3.1 Create Bookshelves Column

Goodreads keeps its data in a Bookshelves column. In Google Drive, select Insert -> Column Right and type ‘Bookshelves’ (without quotes) in the column’s first row.

3.2 Filter, Add, Repeat

Find your “I plan to read list” column. With the column selected, select Data -> Filter. You’ll be able to specify the filter’s details using the drop-down menu in the column header. We’re looking for entries in your to-read list, so make sure only TRUE is checked and press OK.


migrate shelfari or goodreads

All the visible entries should be from your to-read list. Now, add “to-read” (without quotes) to the previously added Bookshelves column for all visible entries. Turn off the filter, and repeat the process for the other shelves, separating different tags in the Bookshelves column with spaces. Below are the column names and the corresponding Bookshelves tags.

– I plan to read list –> to-read
– I’ve read –> read

You can also add tags to Bookshelves for other Shelfari data, like your favorites and wish list, even though Goodreads provides no native support.


4. Change Names

Goodreads is looking for a lot of data that’s already included in the exported file. We’ll just have to change the header names, so Goodreads is able to recognise the information for what it is. Find the columns listed below, and change the names as indicated.

  • Author –> Author l-f
  • Edition Author –> Author
  • Rating –> My Rating
  • PublicationYear –> Year Published
  • Note –> Private Notes

5. Fix The Dates

We’re trying to put the dates in a YYYY/MM/DD format. On a desktop spreadsheet editor, you can usually define custom date formats. We’ll take a different approach using Google Drive.

migrate shelfari or goodreads

Create a new column, titled “Date Read” (without quotes). In the column contents, add the formula


Where ‘number’ refers to the contents of the DateRead column that was originally present in your Shelfari spreadsheet. Repeat the process for the other date columns, with the corresponding names listed below.

  • DateRead –> Date Read
  • DateAdded –> Date Added
  • DatePurchased –> Original Purchase Date

6. Make Columns Static

The date columns are currently generated using a function. To make the data static, right-click the column and select copy. Right-click the column again and select Paste special -> Paste values only.

transfer shelfari to goodreads

7. Delete Redundant Columns

Goodreads most likely will ignore columns it doesn’t recognize, but we’ll delete them from our spreadsheet to avoid confusion. To delete a column, right-click on the column’s lettered header and select Delete Column.

You can delete the following columns:

  • EditionId
  • ASIN
  • DateRead
  • DateAdded
  • Favorites list
  • I plan to read list
  • Wish list
  • I’ve read list
  • I own list
  • I’m reading list

8. Export & Upload

Export the document to a CSV file by selecting File -> Download as -> Comma Separated Values. In Goodreads, go to the import page and upload the CSV file.

shelfari to goodreads

Alternatively, the import page can be reached through My Books -> add books -> import. Give Goodreads a few minutes to process the information, and you’re done!

Why are you moving websites? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

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  1. Goodreadsmaster
    March 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I'm supporting the Goodreads and Shelfari merger though I think that Amazon should deal with the migration themselves. Both sites belong to them and all they need is a DB Architect that knows both structures and could write the scripts that would migrate data from shelfari to goodreads.
    But you know it is a big project and I don't know how shelfari works but I see you can add books without ISBN (which sometimes's great) that means that potentially there are books that might be at least duplicates. I think this is also a concern Amazon should have.
    This merger is not only worth support. It simply makes sense. I guess it will need some adjustements in the near future.

  2. Anonymous
    August 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for this guide! It helped me to import my books with succes from Shelfari to Goodreads!

    112 books successfully imported.

  3. makeuseof3
    May 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    This is still relevant and working in June 2015! Though Goodreads couldn't identify some of my book ISBNs. But anyway, bulk of my work is done. Thanks!

  4. deecee
    May 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I did the changes, but when i try to import, it says "we are still processing this file import" but nothing happens after that. please help!

  5. prkhr
    January 29, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I realize I may be too late here, but hoping this is still alive:

    I'm trying to follow the steps, but the very fist step fails for me when Shelfari gets stuck at "We’re creating a file that contains a list of your books." I never get the downloaded file in the first place. I'm wondering if anyone else has faced the same problem, and emerged a victor? Without that, I'm stuck with Shelfari forever :/

    And also, thanks to Simon for such a comprehensive article. I hope to make good use of it :D

    • K
      February 1, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      I hope he responds, I'm considering doing this as well. I wonder if tis too late.

    • ML
      March 5, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      I was able to successfully download my books from Shelfari yesterday. (It took a while, I have some 4000 books on Shelfari - I did this on a PC in Chrome.) I am working on making the changes and hope to upload to Goodreads today.

  6. Mohamad
    July 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I've just migrated from Shelfrari to GoodReads using GR's import guide. I basically says export to csv from SF then import the file in GR. All books were imported but some fields weren't. Quoting import result:

    "Your file contained 20 fields we didn’t recognize. We still added all the books we could find, but we couldn't include information in these columns:

    edition author
    favorites list
    i plan to read list
    wish list
    i've read list
    i own list
    i'm reading list"

    • Simon Slangen
      August 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Goodreads and Shelfari name and organise their metadata differently. If you upload Shelfari's CSV without modification, Goodreads will recognise some fields and discard other.

      Using the steps outlined above, you can put some of the data in a format that Goodreads understands. We're essentially mapping "Shelfari calls it X" to "Goodreads calls it Y".

      Most of the data that Goodreads doesn't have an equivalent for and that we haven't covered in this guide (e.g. your 'loaned' books), you can add as a 'bookshelf' instead. You do this the same way we did for 'I plan to read' in step 3.1 and 3.2.

  7. titanik
    June 29, 2013 at 12:52 am

    hi Simon, thanks for the article. I myself has created in a large library that my friend owns (since I move to her house I want to keep track on the books that we have, which she never did) There are big amounts of books that doesn't have, I wonder if this method works? Also since my purpose is to find a tool to keep track on the books - (not about what books I want to read,is reading,etc ,I already have a Goodreads account for that) , what do you recommend?

    • Simon Slangen
      June 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Titanik,

      I've never had any issue with the number of books Goodreads has. I moved a library of some 200-300 books and only had an issue with about five of them (Song of Ice and Fire #3 had transformed in a 'behind the scenes of SoIaF' kind of book).

      Your mileage may very depending on the size of your library and the kind of books you read (e.g. Harry Potter VS obscure Romanian poetry). If you decide to go with Goodreads, just give it a shot. Worst case scenario the import fails, but your Shelfari library remains intact either way.

      Both Shelfari and Goodreads work like a charm to catalog books. In my opinion, Goodreads wins out in the end because of the mobile apps, but go with the website you feel most comfortable with.

      • Titanik
        July 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm

        hi Simon, thanks for replying. I'm trying to migrate my book data now and is stuck with step 5. I don't know how to add the formula. Can you tell me,please?

        • Simon S
          July 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm

          Hi Titanik,

          It might be easier to replace step 5 and 6 with what Roshan suggested in the top comment:
          "using the menu option Format > Number > More formats > [first option in list] for changing the date formats in Google Spreadsheet"

          Alternatively, just create a new column, paste the formula in the top cell (replacing the 'number' occurrences to point to your current date). Grab that cell and drag it down to apply the formula to below cells as well.

  8. Roshan Ramachandran
    May 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks Simon!
    I moved my books from shelfari to goodreads using your tutorial. Shelfari doesnt have any mobile app, hence.

    Tip: I was able to skip steps 5 & 6 above by using the menu option Format > Number > More formats > [first option in list] for changing the date formats in Google Spreadsheet. Column titles still have to be changed as suggested above.


    • Simon Slangen
      June 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Thanks! That's the same reason I moved. :-)

      Cool, thanks for the tip!