A to Z Blogging Challenge 2013 - Archetypes
Faith and Art

Amazon Acquires Goodreads (And People React)

A little while ago, Amazon.com announced that it was acquiring the social reading site, Goodreads.

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The reaction on Twitter was fast and furious.

Author Jami Gold mused:

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Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (collectively known as The Book Doctors) tweeted:

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Personally, I'm trying to wrap my head around what's so "scary" about the merger.

In their official statement, Goodreads assured users:

It's important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away. Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community that we all cherish. We plan to continue offering you everything that you love about the site—the ability to track what you read, discover great books, discuss and share them with fellow book lovers, and connect directly with your favorite authors—and your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads. And it's incredibly important to us that we remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets. 

Going on to say that Goodreads will now be integrated to the Kindle experience, a top priority, they also assured users that Amazon supports growing their vision "as an independent entity under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture. "

Noting the dramatic reaction on Twitter, a sensible, rational Kevin Smokler (author of Practical Classicstweeted:

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I replied:

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In response, and echoing my thoughts exactly:

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Author Charlene Baumbach weighed in with:

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Then proceeded to screech:

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Tickling my funny bone, Jeff O'Neal (editor at Bookriot.com) tweeted:

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Baumbach, still caught in throes of hysteria:

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Amid the fray, book blogger Jennifer Messner confessed:

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Dare I say that I never got into Goodreads, either? Maybe now that Amazon.com has acquired them (a site I do use and enjoy--as a reader, writer and Hall of Fame Reviewer), I may have to take a second look.

So what do you think, dear readers? Is Amazon.com a big dog pissing on everything with words on it? Or are they the salvation of books and reading? Will the merger with Goodreads be a good thing for readers? Traditionally-published authors? Self-pubbed writers? Might it be "incestuous" as Jami Gold suggests...and if so, how?

Speak your mind in the comments section below. I'm listening...and curious about your thoughts.

-- Janet

Comments

JamiGold

To answer your question about how this new relationship could be incestuous... :)

Off the top of my head, I wonder if Goodreads will still have "buy" links to other retailers. Amazon occasionally removes buy links from books to punish a publisher (MacMillan)(and B&N has canceled orders for similar reasons (S&S), so this isn't an Amazon-only behavior). So I think having an independent source for the various buy links to get around those blockades is good.

Also, Amazon deletes reviews willy-nilly and doesn't tolerate many authors to post. Will Goodreads change their policies about authors reviewing or about deleting reviews?

None of this means I'm anti-Amazon. I'm rather fond of them, in fact. :)

But the whole reason we don't have MGM theaters (showing only MGM movies) and Universal theaters (showing only Universal Studios movies), etc. in this country is because government stepped in to prevent a vertical monopoly--producer, distributor, theater chain. The government said, "pick two."

Does Amazon's publishing imprints, ebook and CreateSpace production/distribution, online retail store, and now control of this discoverability tool equal a similar vertical monopoly? Maybe, maybe not. But I think there is room for concern. :)

Janet Boyer

Jami, I'm glad you made it over! :o)

Earlier, Laura Hazard Owen posted an interview with reps from Goodreads and Amazon: http://paidcontent.org/2013/03/28/first-do-no-harm-my-interview-with-amazon-and-goodreads-on-the-future-of-goodreads I do believe that Otis answered that question, saying ”It’s incredibly important to us that Goodreads remain a platform for all kinds of readers to use, whether they’re reading paper or on their Nook or Kindle or whatever. We always want Goodreads to be a place for people to share and talk about books…As for specific design of [the links], we’ll see, but we really think about it from the user perspective. If users really want those links [to other retailers], then those links will probably still be there.”

I have a feeling AMZN won't control author reviews like they do on Amazon.com; they'll likely leave that to Goodreads to monitor, I suspect.

I'm not sure how it creates a monopoly; they're only one outlet. Individuals can go anywhere they please to buy their print and digital eBooks.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think so many get ticked off at Amazon because they have foresight and strike when the iron's hot...not to mention they just do things BETTER (like, discoverability, ease of purchase and customer service--not to mention great prices for consumers and nice royalties for authors).

What do you think?

JamiGold

Thanks for sharing that link! I'm certainly not one who's clutching at my hair, so that article convinces me to "wait and see" anyway. :)

As for the rest of your comment, you're thinking of the typical horizontal monopolies, where one company controls the whole industry. In the example I gave, I specified that I was referring to a vertical monopoly, like the movie industry of the first half of the 1900's, where companies control the supply, distribution, and retail outlets. (Here's the Wikipedia article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_integration)

Do I think Amazon will "go evil" and sell only their imprints? No. Could they use their internal algorithms to *push* their imprints over all others? Yes. Could they use Goodreads to further that push by tweaking the discoverability algorithms there too? Yes.

Again, I'm not saying they will. :) But when a company has the *ability* to control the whole supply and demand chain, that's a vertical monopoly.

I'm not an Amazon basher by any means. I'm just making observations of the possibilities. :)

Janet Boyer

Ohhh, OK! Thanks for the link. I just read it. It actually sounds like a GOOD thing to me. LOL! Considering there are so many other online outlets and eReaders, would it matter? (I'm clueless about economics!)

I see what you mean about AMZN pushing their algorithms and such but, again, wouldn't that only be a cause for concern if there were no other online bookstores, distributors, eFormats or eReaders? (Like I said, clueless about economics, but I'm not seeing the problem here). :o)

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