Goodreads, an Amazon-owned review site beloved by the bookish, has grown beleaguered.

The site is built on outdated technological infrastructure, which made the cost of overhauling and updating it a challenge that was ultimately not worth it for the e-commerce giant, according to former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Meanwhile, limited manual content moderation and a lack of protective features allow users to engage in targeted harassment known as “review bombing” — behavior that has resulted in the cancellation of books and their authors.

Former employees said Amazon seemed happy to mine Goodreads for its user-generated data and otherwise let it limp along with limited resources.

The most recent high-profile incident involving Goodreads came when Elizabeth Gilbert — author of the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love — canceled the release of her forthcoming novel after it was flooded with one-star ratings. None of the people leaving negative reviews had actually read the book, which wasn’t slated to come out until February of next year. But because some readers felt the book’s setting — 1930s Russia — was inappropriate in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, they used Goodreads ratings as a way to express their frustration. Gilbert later announced on Instagram that it’s “not the time for this book to be published.” …

“In its heyday, [Goodreads] was more of a help selling books than a hindrance,” said Maris Kreizman, an author who hosts a podcast about books for Literary Hub.

But Goodreads has remained so clunky in its design and is so difficult to use, Kreizman said, that it is no longer fulfilling the promise it once had of “bringing book lovers together and making new communities.”

“I feel like the trajectory was, Goodreads was innovating and doing good things, it was exciting,” she said. “And then Amazon bought it. The end.”