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:
We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:
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.