Dear Amazon, Please Leave Goodreads Alone

amazon goodreads copy

Dear Amazon,

I’ve been buying books from you for years. I’m a fan. I buy books so often that I reasonably can’t afford to make all my purchases at independent bookstores, which I love to support. Nonetheless, I’m entranced by your 37% off list price and free shipping, and so I buy books from you from time to time.

But you recently did something I don’t like at all: you “acquired” Goodreads, one of my very favorite places on the internet to hang. This scares me for several reasons, and I’ll tell you what they are:

1. I love the fact that Goodreads is a safe haven for book lovers. There are no links to Amazon, no blatant advertising. Sure, there are ads for books, but when you click on the link it takes you to the book’s Goodreads page. Goodreads is a place you can go without fear of being attacked by advertisers. The folks who hang out there love books, and when they go to the site, they are going there to TALK about books with other book lovers, not BUY books. Please keep your blankety-blank ads off Goodreads, I beg you.

2. Goodreads loves to bring readers and authors together. I know you try to create author pages on your site, but a brief biography of the writer is about as far as you go. On Goodreads, I love that I can click on the author’s name and go directly to a page which often gives me not only the bio of the author, but very helpfully supplies links to their websites. I admit I use this feature quite a lot. I know you don’t like using links that take your potential customers away from Amazon. When you swoop in and take over Goodreads, please let readers and authors continue to interact. Leave the links to their websites or Twitter pages or whatever else they choose to put on their author page alone.

3. Goodreads gives books away. For free. Just because. I’m pretty worried about this feature disappearing as soon as you take over, Amazon. Now I’ll admit, I rarely win any of the book contests I enter on Goodreads, but there’s the potential for winning, which keeps a girl’s hopes alive. Authors and publishers donate books so that more people will put reviews of their book on Goodreads. This is a great way to get folks to leave a review of your book! Now, I know all about your Amazon Vine™ program. I realize that you give away pre-release books to special readers who have proven themselves. Readers who have reviewed hundreds of books and are listed on Amazon as a “Top Reviewer.” You have to be invited to join the Amazon Vine™ program, I believe. I think my invitation got lost in the mail, because I haven’t heard from you yet, Amazon. Goodreads, however, does not discriminate. Any member can enter to win a free book. That’s book democracy, and I don’t want to lose it when you shoulder your way onto the Goodreads website.

4. Goodreads is a place where you can review a book any way you want to.  One of the best things about Goodreads is that there aren’t a whole bunch of rules when it comes to posting a book review. You can make your review whatever length you like. You can use strong language in your review if you so desire. You can add images and animated GIFs to your review. Other readers can comment on your review. You are able to use simple code and format your review so that it looks just the way you want it to. You can also put a link to your blog or website in your review. More importantly for book bloggers, Goodreads allows you to post a review of a book as soon as that book is available to reviewers. On your site, Amazon, only those elite Amazon Vine™ reviewers can post early reviews of approved Amazon Vine™ titles. The rest of us must wait until the book is available for purchase from Amazon.

I recently had a really strange thing happen to me when I tried to post a review on your site, Amazon. This has never happened before. After copying and pasting my review from my blog, which is how I post all my reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, I received this (automated) email from you:

Dear T. Sparks “Books, Bones & Buffy”,
Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines
We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:
Stung
~Walker Childrens
(19)
a.. Written reviews must be at least 20 words long. The ideal length is 75 to 500 words.
b.. Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.com/feedback.
c.. We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
d.. Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
e.. Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
We welcome your honest opinion about products – positive or negative. We do not remove reviews because they are critical. We believe all helpful information can inform our customers buying decisions. If you have questions about the product or opinions that do not fit the review format, please feel free to use the Customer Discussions feature on the product page.

Well, I’ve never used profanity in my reviews before, but I might have to resort to it here because this email really pissed me off! I honestly can’t imagine what my review of Stung contained that you didn’t like. Worst of all, I can’t contact an actual human being at Amazon that can explain to me what I need to do to fix my review! The fact that the email was automated leads me to believe that a computer program, not a human, read my review and found it to be lacking. I know the author would appreciate it if I put my review on your site, but I just don’t have time to go back and edit a review I’ve already spent a great deal of time writing.

So, you see, Amazon, I’m worried. I hate change. I love Goodreads and my friends on Goodreads and the authors I follow on Goodreads. I love that Goodreads is all about books, and that every day I can go there and join in the celebration. There are many other things that could go wrong when you decide to start making changes, and I’m sure I’m not the only Goodreads user who’s worried about this.  Everyone says to embrace change, nothing ever stays the same, you can’t move forward if you can’t adapt to change, etc. etc. But some things just don’t need to be changed. Goodreads is one of those things. It’s pretty good the way it is. Please don’t mess it up.

Sincerely,

Tammy

 

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Posted April 21, 2013 by Tammy in Ruminations / 23 Comments

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23 responses to “Dear Amazon, Please Leave Goodreads Alone

  1. I’m worry about this news, too. And just like you said, Goodreads is a safe haven for book lovers because it’s ads-free. I wonder what it’s going to be if Amazon acquires Goodreads. 🙁

  2. Wow, I hope they don’t change it. But, as you know if they can make a $1 they will do it. Darn, I have to look for a new book spot. Great article. I didn’t even know about the change. =(

    Mary

  3. I have noticed a few little changes at Amazon and Goodreads since the big buyout and I’m really nervous about what’s going to happen with Goodreads, for many of the reasons you mention. And what a disturbing email from Amazon about your Stung review! What’s that about??

  4. i am worried, too, but am hoping that nothing too terrible happens. i don’t know about that automated review though. that really sucks. i feel like with all of the bad press about the validity of reviews on amazon lately has led them to swing too far in the other direction with blocking reviews that are actually legitimate. i love goodreads because it’s a place where readers go. hoping that does not change.

  5. I love amazon and goodreads, but agree the merger might not be good. I just won a book from goodreads. It would be a shame if amazon changed that.

  6. As much as I enjoy buying books from Amazon, I do have to agree that I like how Goodreads is sort of the “non-biased” book forum in the bunch. I am hoping that Amazon’s stake in all of this doesn’t lead to a giant forum of Amazon promos but rather that they use their stake to enhance and better the features on the site. Here’s to wishful thinking, I suppose!

    • Good positive attitude, Nikki! If anything, maybe amazon can work on the Goodreads server, which seems to crash all the time. Now that would be a positive change:)

  7. marilyn rhea

    I love Goodreads, and I also like Amazon, and buy books from them from time to time. But like a lot of people these days, I am on a fixed income and have to shop on a budget, and sometimes that leads me to sources other than Amazon. I love that on Goodreads you are getting real reviews, by real people, good or bad. They are honest. The minute you get commercial involvement, it can drastically change everything about a great source of authors and readers and their meeting place. Let us all hope that Amazon does not change Goodreads, and leaves it alone, but I fear that they must have some reason behind acquiring Goodreads, that may impact all of our great author and readers in a negative way.

  8. I didn’t even think about the free book giveaways! I have won a handful of books from that over the years and its one of my favorite goodreads features! I hope amazon doesn’t ruin it. I also agree, that response to your review is weird.

  9. Thank you so much for writing this! You expressed so many of my concerns, very thoroughly and thoughtfully. I don’t even know what else to say, because you said it all and I sat here nodding along, and getting sadder and sadder at the potential for Goodreads to become a place I don’t want to go anymore. I hope and wish that they won’t destroy it. 🙁

  10. I’ll admit I’m nervous too! For all the reasons you listed, but especially because I’ll buy a book from anywhere. I don’t want good reads to become another version of Amazon. So sad.

  11. I completely agree. My concern is also for how they will begin filtering the reviews for content and trying to turn them into the same things we find on Amazon. i fear our freedoms will soon be limited to corporate attitude. Absolutely excellent post, I am now a follower for sure.

  12. Pabkins

    I LOVE your rant! I had never hard of the Amazon vine program. But jeez that just seems crazy. I hope they don’t destroy the GoodReads community. I would hope they just leave well enough alone. It works great the way it is in my opinion. I use STRONG WORDS in my reviews quite frequently ….well not in every one but sometimes I just have to put it in there. If I want to say “This chaps my ass” I should be able to say that. So mostly I’m worried about censoring and the connection between readers and authors being lost and yes about ads being all over the place. For now though I’m just waiting and seeing.

    • Pabkins

      by the way because of this I have now moved you to my “favorite blogs” section in my feedly *evil laughter* prepare to be stalked

      • Ha ha ha! You are too funny. I love being stalked…wait, is that weird?? Anyway, I just found your blog My Shelf Confessions and I’m now stalking you back:) Thanks for stopping by!