Friday, 29 March 2013

Discussion: Amazon bought Goodreads

So news has been popping up all over that Amazon have purchased Goodreads for an undisclosed amount. Within minutes, threads started popping up all over Goodreads asking what this meant for users and lots of people have been leaving the site and deleting their reviews.
A fair amount of concern comes from the fact Amazon already owns a lot of websites - they own Book Depository, IMDB, Audible, Love Film and even other big reader sites like Shelfari and 40% of Library Thing. I use Book Depository and saw pros and cons to the Amazon takeover, although the majority of the site stayed the same. I honestly don't remember any big differences with IMDB, and didn't even know they were owned by Amazon, although it does explain the new "buy from Amazon" button on almost every page.
It does concern me a little that Amazon will own a massive chunk of the online book networking sites and it makes me start to question why they want so many. I know they each have pros and cons, and I use Goodreads as it's the one that suits me best. However there are readers who have been switching sites to get away from Amazon's influence and now will be leaving another network.
Before this, Goodreads was relatively independent. There was no preference to one retailer over another, but that could well change. Amazon have been slated a lot for censorship, with negative reviews rarely making it onto the site and reviews being deleted. I've not heard the same said about Goodreads before and so people now are predicting the same problems.
A lot of users are also very annoyed given that last year Goodreads stopped using Amazon data for the book catalogue and caused chaos in the process. I lost a bunch of books that were no longer recognized purely because the announcement came when I was away visiting family and had no internet. By the time I got home they were gone and replaced with "Unknown Book #..." I still haven't finished fixing that so I'm more than a little frustrated.
Some librarians (myself included) are reconsidering our position. Working for free for Goodreads to help improve the catalogue is one thing, working for Amazon for free is another. I'll be staying a librarian for a while, purely because I am a selfish librarian - I became one purely so I could adjust my own books to be accurate as UK editions are spotty and I hated constantly asking for help.
In some ways, this could be a good thing - Amazon's influence could lend itself to finally getting some of the major bugs worked out, particularly in the "recommendations" which haven't worked properly since they were introduced. It may also help with developing the catalogue to show more non-US editions.
Linking Goodreads and Amazon accounts could also be handy - purchasing a book and being able to add it to your TBR with a single click would be awesome. However I'm not sure I want my accounts fully linked (I like to keep social networking and shopping separate) and I don't want every book I buy added to Goodreads.
Essentially my concerns could all be answered through the following questions:
  • Will I be required to integrate my Amazon and Goodreads accounts?
  • How will this affect international users? I have both UK and US Amazon accounts.
  • How will this affect me as a librarian?
  • How will this affect me as a non e-book reader?
Will I be leaving Goodreads? I'm not sure. Until I know how this will affect me personally, I'm not making a decision especially as I can see potential pros and cons. I'm frustrated that Goodreads aren't being clear about what this will mean for users, and when they are talking they use phrases like "certainly will probably" (I wish I was kidding about that one) which leads me to worry more.
So do you use Goodreads and what do you think of the takeover?


  1. I've always liked Goodreads recommendations over Amazon's, even with the kinks. I don't like the idea of linking those two accounts, just for personal/privacy/not mixing credit cards with social networking accounts reasons.

    I think if my reviews are taken down or if somehow down the line reviews posted on Goodreads become part of Amazon and may not be posted on your personal blog, I will no longer post reviews on Goodreads.

    We'll see what happens to the reviewing process. That's the only major concern I have.

    1. Recommendations on Goodreads never really worked for me - they constantly got jammed and just recommended books I'd already read and rated. So I tend to rely on people for reviews which GR groups are brilliant for.

      The idea of linking accounts bothers me too. I don't even like mixing things like my personal facebook page where I chat with family with my blog.

      I'm hoping the review rules stay as they are but if Amazon does change things, I'll just remove my reviews and stay only for the social parts.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts Liza :)

  2. Interesting points! I never thought of the fact bugs will be fixed, but that's certainly a plus.

    If they make me merge my goodreads with my amazon account I don't know what I'll do — I totally hide all my TBR and want to buy book lists from amazon on goodreads!!


    1. It makes sense that they'd fix bugs just to make sure they get the best value for their purchase. Since the announcement my recommendations which have never worked are suddenly working so fingers crossed it's the start of a lot of fixes.

      I may cry if they force me to merge my accounts, I really don't want to combine the two. My wishlists are pretty much a mess at the moment so combining them would just give me a headache lol :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Mia :)


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