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article imageOp-Ed: Goodreads partners with Amazon, cops flak from users

By Paul Wallis     Mar 28, 2013 in Internet
Sydney - I got an email from Goodreads this morning telling me they’d joined the Amazon family. No problem for me, I’m an Amazon author, but others weren’t at all happy about it. The question of Goodreads values vs. commercial realities is the issue.
Goodreads is a very interesting site. It’s eclectic. It’s also full of (shudder) writers, but nobody’s perfect. Funny, scratchy, edgy, interesting.
This was the opening text of the Goodreads blog making the announcement as written by founder Otis:
When Elizabeth and I started Goodreads from my living room seven years ago, we set out to create a better way for people to find and share books they love. It's been a wild ride seeing how the company has grown and watching as more than 16 million readers from across the globe have joined Goodreads and connected over a passion for books.
Today I'm really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads: We are joining the Amazon family. We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them. We also both love to invent products and services that touch millions of people.
Before we get into “ethics” here- This is a quite legitimate business issue. Goodreads can’t exist on goodwill alone. To survive and develop, it needs to have a solid economic base. If you’ve ever worked in a living room, you may get the message. Managing 16 million people in a living room environment couldn’t be that easy, even if they’ve moved on from there.
The ethics are black and white according to some Goodreads people. A lot of Goodreaders just didn’t like anything about the Amazon deal. A lot of the commentary is extremely negative, “sell out”, etc. What the founders obviously feel is a working business proposition is being hit by hundreds of posters “on principle”.
I can appreciate the Bohemian ideal pretty easily. I grew up in it. My whole family is full of artists, designers and writers. What I can also tell you from that background is trying to be Bohemian without any money isn’t a lot of fun. The founders have made a good business move. It can grow the site on a realistic basis. It doesn’t affect their credibility at all to my thinking.
A few points:
Every book on Goodreads is already on Amazon in some form.
Indie authors need exposure.
The difference is that Goodreads is based on real readers, not paid reviewers and “Oooh, I love it” hacks.
The value of critics is that those who are real experts make real contributions. That’s one of Goodreads’ strong points.
Can’t say I’m too impressed with people who have nothing on the line making moral judgments. I’ve been a pro writer for many years. It’s hard work and it’s been thankless work in many ways to be an indie author. Business issues matter. A site that gives independent, informed reviews and feedback exactly what I need. I want my work to stand on its own two feet.
Are we seriously going to say that financial viability isn’t relevant to good sites and authors?
Good luck, Goodreads, you’ve earned it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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