Saturday, March 30, 2013

Obligatory Lamentation; or "WHY GOODREADS, WHY?!"

By now, I'm sure you've heard. It's old news, for the interwebz, anyway. Amazon bought Goodreads.

*sigh* It's not that I have anything against Amazon... other than their predatory market practices, censorship policies, review approval requirements, proprietary attitudes, user content ownership claims... I mean, I use Amazon-owned Audible and love it, even more now that they'll refund me a credit if I dislike an audiobook, no questions asked. I was a member of Audible when Amazon took it over, and to be honest, the transition was virtually seamless for me. One day there was an Amazon sign-in, which I used (because I do have an Amazon account), and that was it. I can't say I noticed anything at all otherwise. Is the refund process their doing? Perhaps. If so, credit where it's due and all that: I love it. Thanks.

But I don't review books for, or on, or Amazon, except in the rarest of cases where I was asked specifically to do so. I've only ever reviewed consistently on Goodreads. Much more consistently there than even here - my very own blog.

Because I consider Goodreads my online Book Home. It's where I go for everything book related. I find and discuss books there, I review books there, I catalog books there. But more than that, I made many book-loving friends there, people who are more than just "online friends" to me, but real friends that I love and would hate to lose.

I love Goodreads. I love the community, the friends I've made, the groups I've created and moderate and helped to grow. I feel like I contribute to a whole there, as a participating member and a librarian. I loved their independence, and how Goodreads was neutral among booklovers - anyone was welcome, there was no bias, no perception of preference for a particular bookseller... And in fact, as little as a year ago, there was a distinctly anti-Amazon attitude there. Goodreads would not be dictated to by Amazon; they'll get their data elsewhere, thank you very much.

I saved quite a few books during that time, and now it was all for nothing, it seems. But I'm not actually upset about that. I volunteered to help save books after Goodreads banned Amazon data sourcing because I wanted to, because I'm part of the community, and because the time I put in benefited everyone, not because I'm anti-Amazon. I can't say that, because I'm not. I buy from them (though generally not books), and technically I am an Amazon affiliate, though I've done exactly zero with that since signing up. I just don't think that Amazon is right for Goodreads, and I'm worried that Goodreads will lose everything that makes it... Good.

I'm worried that the independence I loved about Goodreads is now gone, and that reviews and site content will now be perceived as biased toward Amazon because of this alliance. I'm just concerned about what this will actually mean for Goodreads reviewers. I am concerned how data will be used now that Amazon has access to it. I'm concerned with how policy may change. I'm concerned with how the site may change. Goodreads founder Otis Chandler has said that they have no plans to make significant changes to review policy or ownership rights, etc. And, probably naively, I want to trust that that's true, but Amazon didn't get to be the megacorp it is by letting the little guy run the show. So time will tell.

I'm in Wait & See mode right now, and I have exported all of my books and reviews as a back up. Until I know more about how my reviews will be used by Amazon, I won't be posting them on Goodreads - I'll be posting them here.

That's right, Goodreads and Amazon have teamed up in a conspiracy to ensure I start living up to my New Years Resolution to update this blog more frequently.

It's quite devious, really.


  1. sigh.. I am not sure what to think of this. I was surprised that's for sure. They kept this under wraps! Did you see this:


  2. Yeah... Nothing much there but knee-jerk reaction though. I'm willing to wait it out and see what happens.

    In the end, I'm not so concerned about the marketing aspect of this merger. Amazon has always had a huge marketing influence... but it's still up to the consumer to decide where to purchase.

    Books that I've been purchasing are usually from my local used bookstore, or if new, Free worldwide shipping AND a book donation for a competitive price... Hard to beat.

    Anyway, I'm not willing to leave Goodreads because of this. I'm settled there, and invested, but I may change HOW I use the site, depending on what changes occur.

  3. I don't know how it's going to play out, but I would rather Goodreads had remained independent.

  4. Ditto.

    I think my husband thought someone had died when I started wailing when I read the news. Yes, that's an exaggeration. Barely.

    I haven't been as active in the groups over the past year or two, but I know whose reviews to trust (yours and several others). I felt like I belonged at GR.

    And then they pulled this.

    I'm trying to wait and see. But I've exported my files and uploaded them to my shiny Library Thing account. Just in case. But I feel homeless and bereft at the moment.

  5. I thought it was an April Fool's joke. I think I read the thread title "Announcements -> Exciting News: We're Joining the Amazon Family!" 3 or 4 times before registering what it meant and having a little panic attack.

    I'm happy for Goodreads in that they now have the ways and means to do some of the things that they want and need to do to improve the site... I'm just scared that the "improvements" may come with policy changes courtesy of Amazon's concept of allowed speech, etc...