As March wound down, news surfaced of Amazon buying Goodreads. The announcement shocked me. Fearing the unknown, I mourned for what assuredly would be lost. Not so fast. Is Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads really a bad development? Here are four points of view:
Amazon’s Perspective: From a business standpoint, this is a great move by Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer started with and built its reputation on books. Goodreads focuses on books, celebrating them and serving as a haven for those who love to read. This is a wise move and smart investment for Amazon.
Booklovers’ Perspective: Amazon is a business with a profit motive; books are secondary. Goodreads puts books first, aiding in their discovery and offering a place for booklovers to connect. Proponents who embrace Goodreads as an egalitarian community of knowledge and sharing, fear its corruption by a profit-motivated owner. They cite accounts of Amazon summarily removing reader reviews from their website without warning and with no justification.
Publisher’s Perspective: People who produce and sell books need to promote them, with both Amazon and Goodreads being two places to do so. Few publishers can survive without Amazon but many worry about the juggernaut’s commanding power and ability to unilaterally dictate terms. It’s a love-hate relationship. Publishers worry Goodreads will be sucked into this, no longer providing an autonomous promotion platform.
My Perspective: Amazon also owns the popular movie resource IMDB, which continues to operate without interference from its parent. Amazon didn’t corrupt IMDB and I expect the same outcome for Goodreads.
Long live Goodreads!