I saw the news first in a series of notifications that Facebook sent me on my phone alerting me that people were commenting on a post I had made on the Left Bank Books page. I hadn’t actually made a post today, so imagine my surprise that we were getting so much attention!
After struggling to find the actual post on my phone for a few panicked minutes I resorted to firing up ye olde laptop, and there it was, the offending status.
Apparently while I was away from the switch today, one of my alert co-workers posted the news that only comes as a shock to those who think Amazon or Goodreads gives one flying.. well, you know.. about stupid little things like diversity, independence and healthy competition in the book industry. Goodreads sold out to Amazon.
After a couple of seconds of scrolling through my friends’ statuses, I found the link to Goodreads announcement promising “exciting news” complete with a perky picture of Otis and Elizabeth, founders of Goodreads, clutching Kindles with Goodreads stickers on them.
I scanned the message and found the usual blather about being able to “touch millions of people” and blah blah blah. Then in the second paragraph I just had to stop for a second. “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.”
Here’s my message for Goodreads -
Really, Goodreads? You’ve forsaken all the other opportunities to partner with independent bookstores, Kobo, even Barnes & Noble & the Nook? How about iPad? Also, who at Amazon has a love of books or authors?
And who, for the love of all that is good in the world, will FINALLY notice and successfully challenge Amazon’s blatant attempts – and dare I say it, success – at monopolizing an entire industry?
I’ve had my issues with Goodreads before, and truthfully I’ve been way too preoccupied with running my own bookstore to spend much time reviewing books for free for a company who will then use those reviews to sell books somewhere else. Back when I started my Goodreads account, I noticed that you couldn’t remove the Amazon link from the places to buy the books, but I did settle with including Indiebound and my bookstore among them. Heck, I even started a Goodreads account for the store and encouraged – yes, that’s right Otis and Elizabeth, encouraged - the booksellers who work with me to review books there so that we could feature those reviews in their staff pick pages on our website to, you know, sell books. We actually talked about it at staff meetings there for a while, looking for ways to better incorporate Goodreads into our ways of recommending books because you had a pretty cool idea.
I’ve now deleted all the accounts to which I have administrative access.
And, ok sure. Kindle is the Kleenex of e-readers. And, alright yes, you’ll reach a crap-load of readers, but here’s the bigger picture – and yes there is a bigger picture than Amazon:
You just turned your back on another, more interesting crap-load of readers who use Kobo and Nook and have zero interest in Amazon’s app, Kindle or other godforsaken tool. And this particular crap-load of readers actually spend more money per e-book, and have stronger loyalty to libraries, independent stores and other bricks and mortar stores – an attitude which, incidentally, nurtures books and reading in a way that selling your reader information to the biggest of all Big Brothers just doesn’t do. I’ll spare you the speech about supporting local economies, because I do realize it’s too much to ask to call the world around you to your attention on this, your “emotional day” when you feel like a “college graduate.” I’m so very happy for you that you’ve graduated from the low rent, unwashed masses of independent readers, sellers, writers and publishers who actually built, with the suggestions, recommendations and conversations, the empire you just sold.
p.s. – It doesn’t soften the blow when you mention job offerings. It just sounds the bell that means you’re going to hire people to accumulate more of our, scratch that, their data to sell.
Anyway, to riff off the Goodreads message:
I’m not excited about this for three reasons:
1. With the reach and resources of Amazon, Goodreads can introduce more readers to our vibrant community of book lovers
and create an even better experience for our members and create a more generic and cold experience for your members.
2. Our members have been asking us to bring the Goodreads experience to an e-reader for a long time. Now we’re looking forward to bringing Goodreads to the most popular e-reader in the world, Kindle, and
further reinventing what reading can be blowing the opportunity to bring the Goodreads experience to ALL e-readers and tablets in the world.
3. Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity (so they won’t have to underwrite your operating expenses), under the Goodreads brand (so they can get around monopoly regulations) and with our unique culture (which will gradually be colonized and then assimilated to the Amazon culture, whereupon your brand will disappear and Amazon will take what you’ve given them and watch you fail with glee.)
I’ve reached the end of my interest in this particular subject for the evening. I’ll drink a toast to your “graduation” when I open my Schlafly Pale Ale.