Amazon Bought Goodreads…Now What Will They Do Next?

I’m an avid follower of publishing news. I want to know who is selling, who is buying, and how the industry is changing. Keep this in mind and bear with me as you read the seemingly-unrelated second paragraph.

On the other side of things, I am not always as interested in social media as I should be. I was on twitter for less than two days before I was overwhelmed at the number of tweets I was expected to think up at 6-hour intervals, and I go on facebook mostly just to keep in touch with college friends and stalk high school nemeses. So it should come as no shock to you that I only just got on Goodreads within the last two weeks. For those who don’t know, Goodreads is a social network for bookworms. Part of my avoidance was due to not really knowing what joining would entail. Part of it was also due to the fact that I read one book a week. I take public transit to and from work, and I read while eating breakfast and lunch; this – coupled with my speed-reading super power – gets me through a lot of books in a short amount of time. The idea of trying to list and review everything I’ve read was overwhelming, even if I only went back over the past six months.

However, I finally joined and have really enjoyed trying to review a book a week.

Now, here’s the fact that connects the first two paragraphs: Amazon bought Goodreads this week. You can find an interesting article about how Goodreads was a smart purchase here.

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My interest is more from an author-ly perspective. Amazon’s algorithms recommend books to potential buyers based on their purchases and the related purchases of others who bought the same item; Goodreads’ algorithms do the same thing based on how you rate books you’ve read along with the reading choices made by others who felt similarly about your book.

Now, if the two most popular online avenues of book reviews are now housed under the same roof, how will that affect how people go about deciding which books to buy? I know that a lot of the reviews on both sites are already skewed one way or another. Authors can create profiles to rave about their books, and friends can scratch one another’s backs with inflated praise. It can also go other sketchy ways. For instance, I was amazed at the number of Amazon reviews who gave one star reviews for A Memory of Light – even though most of them hadn’t read it – because they wanted to voice their anger at a delayed release date of the e-book version.

However, I know that I base a percentage of my reading choices on the reviews I find online, and I have to think that there are others out there who do too. Mostly positive? It gets added to the list. Negative reviews that cite my pet peeves? Neeeeeext. I even like to see how the Goodreads reviews compare to the Amazon reviews; I am of the opinion that different people review in different places. Hopefully, the Amazon-Goodreads relationship won’t change the unique benefits of uncensored reader feedback present in both sites. In fact, I’d love to see reforms that make it harder to engage in the sneaky tactics mentioned in the previous paragraph.

So far, I haven’t found anything citing Amazon’s plans for the future of Goodreads. Only time will tell, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. Anyone have any predictions?

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