Yeah. If you pay any attention at all to news in the publishing realm, and if you’re on the social networks, you’ve probably already heard about Amazon buying Goodreads. If you haven’t heard yet, here are some pertinent links:
And as I pretty much just commented over on SBTB, man, I have concerns about this big time.
Like a lot of voracious readers, I’ve valued the general caliber of reviews on Goodreads way more than I have the ones on Amazon, even if the Amazon ones get more visibility. I’ve preferred the Goodreads reviews because they’ve historically been less prone to manipulation (not entirely immune, but at least somewhat less, anyway). Goodreads doesn’t have people dropping one star on something just because they don’t like the price it’s selling for on the Kindle, or because the release date isn’t what they want, or for any host of other biased reasons. Because of this, I pay way, way more attention to reviews on Goodreads when it comes to deciding whether or not I’m going to buy a book.
But just as important as the caliber of reviews is that up till now, Goodreads has been neutral. They’ve not been tied to any specific book vendor or any specific device. This has meant that as a site, they’re naturally more focused on the community of readers.
I’m a Goodreads librarian, and I’ve gotten the email that they’ve sent around to all the librarians that pretty much says what the press releases are saying—i.e., that they intend to keep all the ratings and reviews intact, that they will continue to link off to other retailers, that they will continue to maintain general neutrality. I’m hoping that’s true. But I’m also remembering that this isn’t the first time Amazon’s bought a previously independent property that’s since fallen by the wayside.
Goodreads is saying they’re going to grow the company, but I can’t help but think that shiny new employees they’re bringing in are going to be way more invested in developing shiny new features to integrate with the Kindle. And I have a real hard time buying that Amazon’s going to put up with them making it easy for Goodreads users to go off and buy books anywhere else but on Amazon.
And let’s not even get into how this influx of user data is marketing gold. God-DAMN, Amazon, didn’t you people have enough marketing data on me already? Did you really need my massive Goodreads account library, too?
That property being Stanza. Y’all remember Stanza, yes? Independent reading app? I’m just sayin’, I haven’t seen ANY development on that thing in ages, either on the mobile app OR on the ancient desktop edition thereof.
Now, I’m not going to go deleting my Goodreads account. As a newbie author just starting out building her audience, the site’s still too valuable a tool for me to disregard just because I’m cranky at the people who manage it. But as a reader, and specifically as a reader who does her electronic reading on things that aren’t Kindles…
Yeah. I have concerns.