Monday, April 1, 2013

Amazon Devours Goodreads...What Now?

As a writer and a reader, I have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads.

The bookish social media site has, in the last couple of years, been my favorite place to find new books and to share the books I've enjoyed reading.  I don't have time to read everything, and recommendations from friends are always welcome.  Being able to collect all those recommendations in one place has exposed me to some great books I wouldn't have otherwise read.

At the same time, it's a difficult site for me to visit because of how hard readers can be (and how fragile my sense of self-worth can be at times).

But the good has always outweighed the bad.

Now, I'm not so sure.

I wrote recently about how we are the product.  We aren't customers of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, or Tumblr.  We're the product.  Our information is sold to advertisers.  We are commoditized like anything else.

Though I knew Goodreads had to make money in some way (through advertising or affiliate programs) they were mostly agnostic.  I didn't feel like they had an agenda.  Despite Amazon's claims that Goodreads will remain wholly independent, I simply can't believe that they bought GR out of the goodness of their hearts.

In a way, this is a brilliant strategy for them.  Tons of readers, rating and collecting books.  Marrying that to their Kindle ecosystem is almost guaranteed to boost sales. Giving Kindle users a way to access GR from directly within their Kindles is something I've secretly wished for...despite the fact that I use a Nook when I use my e-reader at all.

And don't even think they won't use the GR platform to promote the heck out of Kindle authors.

In short, GR now has an agenda.  That agenda is to sell Kindle books.

Will you notice it right away?  Probably not.  Amazon is savvy.  They won't risk pissing off loyal GR fans.  It'll roll out slowly.  The same way Google slowly eliminated Push email from iOS's native Mail app.  Sure, you can get Push email from Google, but you have to use the Gmail app.

In the end, I'm not sure this move was unexpected.  Someone was eventually going to gobble up Goodreads.  That it was Amazon makes perfect sense.

I'm not going to run out and close my account, but I am going to keep an eye on it.  I'm not a product, after all.  I'm a person.

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