Friday, March 29, 2013

Amazon Buys Goodreads

by Scott Rhoades

The book world, blogosphere, and online news sites are abuzz with yesterday's news that Amazon is buying Goodreads.

Over the last few years, Goodreads has become my favorite place to track my  reading and to look at book reviews. As an independent site peopled by folks who love to read, I trust their reviews more than I trust, say, the reviews on Amazon. Plus, I can see if my friends have read a book I'm thinking about getting, and what they thought of it.

I will take a wait-and-see approach to what this really means, but I'm skeptical. I love knowing there's a place where I can get independent reviews that have nothing to do with a particular bookseller, a place where I can click links to various sellers if I want to price or buy a book, and a place where books can be discussed by book lovers without the overseeing eye of a seller and publisher. Goodreads is a place where it doesn't matter whether you read on a Kindle, a Nook, or prefer to read your books the old-fashioned way: on vellum scrolls. I love knowing I can review a book or add one to be to-read or have-read lists without that information being mined by somebody who sees it as a way to sell more books or target more ads. I have nothing against selling or targeting ads, if I'm on a site where the goal is to purchase or window shop, or if I'm on a site where I've become resigned to the knowledge that it's happening, like on Facebook or anything owned by Google (including this blog site). I just like that there's still a place where it doesn't happen, where people share information for the joy of sharing something with people who have similar interests.

I don't expect any of those things to survive this acquisition. Maybe they will, but, like I said, I'm skeptical, and my skepticism makes me hesitant to continue adding information to the site. I also wonder how long independent will remain in the English vocabulary.

What do you think?

More Info

Official press release
Goodreads statement
New York Times
Forbes article on how this acquisition hurts competition


Katie said...

This is the first I have heard of the acquisition and I am so disappointed! I love Goodreads for all of the reasons you mentioned, and I do not want it to change in the hands of a bookseller. It's not that I don't like Amazon, but I want them to be separate.

Scott said...

I agree, Katie. Amazon has been very valuable to me, because a lot of what I read is not easy to find, especially in a county without a single independent secular bookstore. I've spent quite a bot of money there, and that's not likely to change. But my favorite thing about Goodreads is--was, I guess, now--its independence and seller agnosticism.

Michelle said...

I hadn't heard this either. I love Goodreads and I get nearly all my reading ideas from there. I'm hoping it doesn't change too much!