Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Amazon, Goodreads, Questions . . . and an answer

Not long after the acquisition of Goodreads by Amazon, I posted a rather skeptical open missive questioning the future of one of my favorite websites. Here is a portion of the email I sent to Goodreads in regards to my questions, under the subject heading "RE: Goodreads Joins the Amazon Family":

What does this imply, in terms of authors reviewing other author's work? Will the same restrictions be placed on Goodreads authors reviewing other authors' work, the same as Amazon has done? What assurances can we have that this will NOT happen?

What of works that are now published exclusively on a platform other than Amazon, such as Smashwords? Will the corporate interests of Amazon disallow reviews of such books?

Please take a moment to address these questions.

I was surprised, frankly, to get a direct response. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, given how . . . well, good Goodreads has been in the past.  Maybe my pessimism had let me believe the various conspiracy theories that are floating out there about how the acquisition must have already corrupted Goodreads. While more level-headed people are taking a "wait and see" approach (myself included), there are some who have run away from Goodreads virtually screaming, as it were.

So here is a measured and intelligent response from Kate Erickson, Customer Care Manager at Goodreads:

Hi Forrest,

I'm so sorry for the delayed response to your inquiries.  To clarify, we have no plans to change our reviews policy. All of your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads.  And we’ll continue to be a home for all types of readers, no matter what books you love to read or how you love to read them.  You will still be able to review any book that you've read, even if it isn't available on Amazon.  As for the links to retailers, we have no plans to change these.  And it’s important to remember that members always have the freedom to choose where to buy their books – it’s their decision.

I hope that helps to allay your concerns, but please let me know if you have any further questions.

Best regards,

Kara Erickson
Customer Care Manager

Now, while I find the last sentence to be a little bit of an artful dodge (really, only a little bit), I'll say that this response has done a lot to put my mind at ease. Call me a sucker, but I believe her, at least for now. Again, I'm taking a wait and see approach, like many of you are, but I feel like I can ease back in my chair just a bit while watching the transition take place. Who knows, maybe we'll all end up enjoying the ride?

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