Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Amazon, Goodreads, and me

Goodreads was recently acquired by Amazon.

This has prompted me to rethink my (passionate) relationship with Goodreads. I am not a fan of Amazon. I was, years ago, but Amazon has gotten too big, is too proprietary with its digital content and hardware devices, has sketchy privacy and censorship practices, and is strong-arming libraries and publishers into deals they don't like.

When I linked to books and book summaries from this blog, I linked to the Goodreads page because I wanted to support reading, not any particular book vendor. I have my own favorite book businesses, but I wanted any potential readers to make their decisions starting from a vendor-neutral book profile. 

I will be a Barnes & Noble girl until the grim and bitter end, which at this point is probably inevitable. Not because B&N is necessarily so virtuous (though it has a better track record as a partner to readers, communities, and especially to libraries), but because as an avid reader who also works in a book-related industry, I refuse to help the Amazon monster win. I do not want to live in a world where I only have one source for purchasing my new books, and the trajectory Amazon is on will take us there before too long. I dread the day when Amazon truly gets to call all of the shots.

LibraryThing is partially owned by Amazon, as well, but it's a relatively small slice of the pie (at least according to its founder and majority stakeholder). Shelfari is another option, but it is owned by Amazon and I haven't heard good things about it, anyway.

Right now LibraryThing is offering one-year memberships for free to encourage Goodreads refugees to try them out. Even on a regular day, they let you choose the exact amount that you want to pay for a membership; the typical donation for a lifetime membership is $25, but you can choose to pay as little as $19. Right now I am trying LibraryThing out and am pleasantly surprised by how much it has improved over the last several years. If I continue to be favorably impressed, I will make the switch permanently and delete my Goodreads account. We'll see.

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