Hey, Did You Hear That Amazon Is Buying GoodReads? Do You Care About This?

By Lori Culwell

by Lori Culwell
GRThat title, of course, was meant to be facetious, because if you’re anywhere near the publishing industry, you know this is all anyone has been talking about all weekend. My fellow authors here on BookPromotion.com and I have been wondering a couple of things about this merger, and I will attempt to summarize those things now.

First, though, if you haven’t already, you must go and check out the feedback from GoodReads members, which I think really tells the story better than we ever could. GR has long been an indie favorite that readers have enjoyed because they like the freedom to talk about and rate the books that they read, and some of the more (shall we say) enthusiastic GR members are so vehemently against this acquisition, they are quitting GR in protest. We’re assuming the Amazon deal was pretty much done before they announced, so a dropoff in membership is unlikely to really have any impact (sorry, ardent GoodReads users!). But, please go and read the comments– there are almost 2,000 of them so far, and they reflect the fact that GR users are dissatisfied with this decision, and they’re not going to take it anymore.

What’s all the fuss about? As far as I can tell, it seems to mostly be about reviews and freedom of discussion (except for that Authors Guild thing about how Amazon is creating a monopoly– that’s actually pretty important as well). One thing that everyone, across the board, seems to be concerned with is Amazon’s increasingly stringent and unforgiving review policy. Did you know that your mom or your best friend are probably not going to be able to review your book on Amazon? GoodReads used to be a good place to go if you totally loved your friend’s book and wanted to tell people about it. We’re guessing this will be less true once Amazon takes over.  If you love GoodReads, I can see how this would be upsetting.

Here’s the thing—GoodReads has always been something of a necessary evil for me (and fellow authors that I talked to). I’ve never found it to be terribly user-friendly, and while I can get easily get sucked into book / literary discussions because the GoodReads user base tends to be smarter than, say, your average Twitter user, I don’t find that any of this really translates into book sales for me. And, in case you think I haven’t “investigated” GoodReads thoroughly enough, let me say that I have been on there since it first started. (so, six years). All of my books are on there, I log in regularly, I have done two giveaways and facilitated many more than that for clients, and I think I can honestly say that while I gave it my best shot, it wasn’t the best place for me to put my effort because it did not yield many (if any) tangible results.

What’s your thought on this? Are you heartbroken by this decision, or were you not really using GoodReads anyway? Are you afraid that GoodReads has sold out, and will you abandon ship? Tell us!

In case you’re curious and dying to read some other coverage and opinions of this merger, here are some of the highlights:

Amazon buys GoodReads:  We’re all just data now

First Do No Harm:  My Interview with Amazon and GoodReads on the future of GoodReads

The Simple Reason Why GoodReads Is So Valuable to Amazon