Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Some thoughts on GoodReads getting gobbled up by Amazon

I found out a couple of days ago that GoodReads, the site I use to track my reading, sold out to Amazon. This is not exactly thrilling news as this is about as good as Barnes and Noble (about the only bookstore of scale still standing, and I am picking it as an example somewhat book-related) selling out to Walmart. For me, now it's as the old saying goes, "there goes the neighborhood." In many ways, despite some issues, GR was a neighborhood, a community of readers where they could track their reading and engage others as they wished. I personally did not use the forums or groups very much. I did use their tracking and list features for books I've read, books I am currently reading, and books I would like to read in the future. For me, it was about the reading experience. Occasionally I would get a recommendation from GR that I added to my TBR list. Once a few friends joined, seeing what they read and recommended was useful. To be honest, I am not thrilled about Amazon swallowing up all that data to try and sell me stuff I probably don't want.

Unlike other people on the Internet, I am not miffed by the idea they sold out. I understand it is the American Way: come up with a good idea and if enough people want it, make a fortune. Sometimes you make the fortune yourself. Other times you sell your idea to some behemoth with cash to burn (or plenty of suckers investors willing to lend you said cash). So as nice and convenient as GR is, it is not really surprising it got bought out. It's a pity they got bought out by Amazon, a company I do dislike and find unethical in many of its practices, but as another old saying goes, "money talks."

I could rush out and delete my account, but I am under no illusion this would deprive them of my data. Much like Facebook, I would bet my data, even if I export it, will stay in some server someplace waiting to be aggregated, parsed, and analyzed for commercial use. However, if I can find an alternative to GR, I may migrate. I am not holding my breath. Amazon has gobbled up much of the competition as they own Shelfari and have a stake in Library Thing. Plus, while the founder of LT may say that Amazon's stake is small and not a big deal, it does not mean it will stay that way. A minority stake today could well become full ownership down the road. I think I will try and pass on that.

What I will likely do, as others are doing, is gradually wean myself out of using GoodReads. It is a part of my online routine, so it will be a gradual process. I probably will stop adding data to it (I will likely finish updating for the books I have listed as currently reading, then add no others once I finish those). Then export all the data I can, and eventually clear out any GR reviews I shared on my blogs (mostly remove the GR html coding stuff and then clean up the reviews so they stand on their own). After that, I will just do what I've always done, which is keeping my records in my personal journals and sharing selectively in my blogs.

So, the sale is disappointing, but it's  not the end of the world. It's the Internet, where a good free idea eventually gets sold out. Sometimes it sells out to someone good, and other times to a slum lord who just let's it die. It is what it is; it does not mean I have to like it. However, as long as there is another option, I will explore it and try to avoid the slum.


CW said...

Thanks for blogging your thoughts on this. You are 100% right in that this sale is just the way of the Internet, the way of business. I think we can get so caught up using these services/sites - and they become so much a part of the routine (for some, even a part of their identity), that it is a wrench when things change. We're no doubt going to see a lot more change (some good, some not-so-good) in coming years...

For me personally one good thing that's come of this is that I've been prompted to rethink my use of these services. I'm going to be blogging more - it's my own space.

Angel Rivera said...

Hey CW, thanks for stopping by. Yea, that needs to be a step for me down the road, get my own blog (as in my own domain, so on). In the meantime, I will certainly work to blog more of the reading stuff on the blogs. Between this and GReader, it has given me pause to think.

Best, and keep on blogging.