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Salon.com: "How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers"

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

From the article:


"This latest pang in Goodreads’ growing pains is more than just an instance of poor social network management. It raises broader issues about literary culture and conversations, how they happen and who owns and controls them. [...]

It’s possible to deduce Goodreads’ logic on this. By deleting the reviews of the fairly small group of reviewers engaged in the original dispute, they might alienate a tiny fraction of their user base (mostly concentrated in a particular genre) and drive them off the site. [...]

But this new group of protesters, many of whom are leaving for a new site called Booklikes, ought to give Goodreads pause. Some of them are Goodreads librarians (who volunteer to help the site maintain data accuracy and perform other administrative and curation services), top-rated reviewers who have produced thousands of smart, articulate and perceptive takes on books ranging from classic novels to philosophy to book-length journalism on current affairs, history, science and politics. They’re incredibly well-read. They should rightly be seen as the jewels in the crown of any social network of book lovers. And they do all of this for free.

When [GR reviewer Alfaniel] Aldavan observes that these members don’t feel like customers, he makes an important point, and one that underlines the murkiness of Goodreads’ identity and purpose. You could say that the users are not the customers but the product. In buying the company, Amazon purchased both its reviews — which can be directly accessed by Kindle Paperwhite owners — but also their data, a vast collection of information on what people read and like.

Furthermore, while many Goodreads members tend to see the site as existing “for readers,” and the spokesperson for the company reiterated to me its stated mission “to help readers find good books to read,” the site also markets itself to authors as a place to promote their work. [...]

Many of the disillusioned reviewers feel burned and cautious about investing their efforts and content in a newer site like Booklikes, which may eventually face the same dilemma. Goodreads itself, if it does not resolve the tension between its moneymaking activities and the interests, desires and faith of its reader-members, risks spoiling the only real resource it has."