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