Amazon, Goodreads, and Nora Roberts

This is sort of like a special edition of Shop Talk, the Wednesday feature where we chat about bookish stuff. The Twitterverse and the author email loops were abuzz yesterday with the news that Amazon has purchased the monolithic book website Goodreads.

Most authors seem to think this is a Bad Thing. I honestly don’t know. I don’t have the Anti-Amazon gene a lot of people have. Probably because I live in a small town and if not for Amazon, I’d be reading a lot of Nora Roberts books from Walmart or Walgreens. (No offense to Ms. Roberts.)

I don’t use Goodreads a lot. I feed my blogs in there, and I track my own reads (although I’ve been a slacker about that lately). I have librarian status because they often seemed to put up the wrong covers for my books and it allows me to go in and change them. I do read my reviews, particularly on newer releases.

Goodreads as a whole isn’t very author-friendly, however. I know some authors who tiptoe into the discussion forums occasionally, or who’ve started their own, but I also know some who’ve been flamed–and not in a nice way–for even mentioning their own book. So I avoid those; I have enough drama in my life without forum flaming, and don’t really have time for more social media.

I spent a few hard-fought weeks a year or so ago trying to get a one-star review removed from Goodreads–of a book I hadn’t even written yet. It was frustrating to be told by someone in “customer service” that reading a book was not a prerequisite for writing a review. Well, okay. But having the book at least WRITTEN should be a criterion. Finally, by banding with a number of other debut authors who’d also been the victim of this “reviewer,” we were able to get the reviews removed.

So, what’s your take on the Amazon-Goodreads purchase? Seems like a good topic to chat about on a Friday in March…

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

36 thoughts on “Amazon, Goodreads, and Nora Roberts

  1. I am not sure what to think yet. I use a lot for ebooks. And I use goodreads a lot (post reviews, keep track of books i’ve read and want to read…). I will be interested to see if any changes are made.

    • It will be interesting. I think a lot of the hysteria last night and this morning is predicated on what people THINK Amazon might do at some point in the future. Which, to me, is wasted energy. I haven’t seen any difference in Zappo’s or Book Depository since they were bought by Amazon.

    • well, in my opinion book prices have been almost an euro higher since Amazon bought Bookdepository. Of course I don’t know if that is the sole reason, or that books are more expensive everywhere.
      Of course, that has no meaning to Amazon buying Goodreads.

  2. Like Jennifer above, I use amazon to purchase, but I also post all of my reviews there. I don’t keep track of them after I post. I also use GoodReads to post my reviews, but keep track of books I’ve read and want to read. Honestly, I don’t imagine there will be big changes to GoodReads, but we’ll see… I believe Amazon already owns Shelfari – because the site is forever trying to get me to link my Amazon and Shelfari accounts. If this happens with GR, I’ll be upset – I don’t want to link the accounts. Also, I wonder if either GR or Shelfari will go away…

    • I’ve heard a lot of speculation that Shelfari will probably close down, but nothing official. Like you, I really don’t anticipate there will be many changes at Goodreads. Right now, it sounds as if Amazon might be a bit Big Brotherish in terms of using what books a member reviews or what forums he or she belongs to as part of their book-recommendation algorithms. But we’ll see!

  3. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. Amazon already has Shelfari and I use that in addition to Goodreads. I’m not at all anti amazon either but I’m still just not sure how I feel about them having their fingers in all the pies.

    • I think that’s the big concern for most people–if Amazon holds enough power will they abuse it? It’s the “a benevolent dictator is still a dictator” argument, and no one wants their choices dictated to them or limited. But I think it’s too early to worry about that, and the bigger question isn’t “why is Amazon making smart business moves” but “when are traditional publishers going to start moving as well.”

  4. I use Goodreads a LOT to keep track of what books I’ve read, which is very useful when reading series out of order. I also find that the reviews are a little more honest than the ones on Amazon. I’ve never really used it as a social network the way some people have, and I’ve been surprised at some of the blow ups that have taken place there. I also agree that I don’t want to link my GR account with my Amazon account. They keep trying to get me to link my FB account as well, which I don’t want to do.

    I have mixed feelings, because, like you, I’m not an Amazon hater because I live in a small town and Walmart is my only book purchasing option in town. It does seem like there could be some serious conflict of interest, though, since Amazon is now a publisher. I’m willing to wait and see.

    • Yes, I get annoyed at the account linkage going on, and I usually decline. I finally let GR link to my FB account, and seems like if I get a new friend or follower on Goodreads, now they get an automatic friending on Facebook. So it will be interesting to see what Amazon tries to do with Goodreads. More prominent buy links, at least, I guess.

  5. I’m not sure about having Amazon purchase Goodreads. I use it a lot for discussions and reading challenges but also to track what I’ve read. Since a lot of what I read is from the library that’s giving Amazon access to a lot of information they don’t currently have.

    • I think that’s my biggest concern, Sandy–the info sharing. Not that the books we read or the ratings we give them are secret–anybody can see them anyway. But it will be less transparent, I guess. I’m just not sure.

  6. Time will tell if it’s a good thing or bad. I find GoodReads really useful just to track what I’m reading and I like seeing how many pages I’ve read so far, which authors I read the most, etc. I think if it remains the same, I’ll be okay or if any Kindle app is integrated it’s a bonus for Kindle users, rather than a deterence to other e-reader users.

    • I did read this morning that there will be a Goodreads app designed especially for Kindle, and I think that will be a bonus for those of us who are Kindle users.

  7. I love Goodreads and I love Amazon, so it seems like a good thing but I will have to wait and see before I reserve judgement. I love amazon and we just moved from a very small town in California. All I had for book shops was Walmart and thrift stores. I became a very good customer of amazon while we lived there 🙂

    • That’s sort of my situation, too. I live in a college town, so we do have bookstores, but they sell textbooks mostly, and memoirs of former college football players. The Books-a-Million in an adjacent town, only 15 or 20 minutes away, has such a small SF/F/PNR section I think it has about five titles. Two are by Stephanie Meyer and three are by George RR Martin. So I buy from Amazon a LOT.

  8. I don’t know what to think about this…it seems a little scary, to allow Amazon to HAVE ALL THAT POWER…but since they also have MOST OF MY BOOK BUYING MONEY, I don’t know what my problem is…

    I haven’t really made it too far with Goodreads, either. At the moment, I feel like I’m flailing my arms around the social media pool hoping to catch something without putting out someone’s eye…

    Hey, that was pretty clever, I think I’ll use it again…

    • Ha–that is clever! And exactly how I’m feeling about social media these days. I’ve started using FB more than Twitter now because it feels more manageable.

  9. I love using Goodreads for tracking what I have read. Not sure how the Amazon purchase will impact the site. I don’t use FB or Tweeter at all. Not comfortable with those formats.

    • I suspect it won’t have a lot of impact on Goodreads on the front end. Whatever they do on the back end of the site…who knows! Social media like FB and Twitter can be overwhelming, for sure.

  10. Like both sites. Don’t understand 1 star reviews for books not written yet either. Have seen that often. Not a fan of authors rating their own books on Goodreads with 5 stars and a one sentence description telling readers to buy it and that the book’s great.

    • Ugh. I haven’t seen that, but I don’t like that either. Can’t believe authors go and rate their own books! Stuff like that might be why GR users get so negative toward authors sometimes. Other than tracking my reads, I just don’t do much on there.

  11. I’ve read the post on Goodreads why they sold out, and I’ll just wait and see. I only started posting my reviews there and on Amazon, as it is supposed to help the authors. I don’t do much with it otherwise. To track what I have read in the years before is not possible, and to input all the books I own would take me months. Which is why I quit Shelfari, when Amazon bought it I just could not make it work for me anymore, and I gave up. Also, I discovered book blogs, and those are more fun than Shelfari discussions.

    • I never got into Shelfari either, and the Goodreads discussions are supposedly very unfriendly toward authors–which I understand, because no one wants to listen to someone’s sales pitch all the time.

  12. hum i’m a bit stressed by that because i’m not sure about the security of my info and i do hope we will still be able to review anybook we want even those not available on amazon.

    we will have to see now i will go resting to be well for the editor persuasion game tomorrow ( i just have toprint the folio i’ve created and i’m all set ^^ i will let you know how it went ^^*fingers crossed*

    • Good luck tomorrow, Miki! I think the site’s security would be improved with Amazon if anything. How Amazon uses it in marketing, I don’t know. I would be surprised if the content of Goodreads changes much at all.

  13. Hmm… I wonder if they will allow books on Goodreads that can’t be purchased through Amazon or if they will use Goodreads to further cement their monopoly position.
    Any bookstore that forces me to buy their brand e-reader to be able to read their ebooks comfortably instead of on my notebook gets my distrust.

    • I’m guessing they will continue to allow Goodreads to include books whether they’re sold on Amazon or not. I would be shocked to hear otherwise. Time will tell.

  14. Okay, I use Goodreads a lot. Helps me keep track of my books. And honestly, I don’t really understand why everyone is freaking out about the Amazon buying Goodreads thing. No offense to those who are, but I don’t really hate amazon or anything. Their hardbounds are admittedly cheaper than The Book Depo and stuff… And I love their Kindle Paperwhite, so there’s that. 😉

    • I don’t understand it either, personally. I mean I understand the anti-monopoly fears except people are reacting to what they think Amazon MIGHT do at some point in the future, not to what they’ve actually done. So as long as I can find the books I want at good prices, I have no problem with them. And I love my Kindle. I had a Nook for a while but sold it because I didn’t like it as well,

  15. I don’t use Goodreads that often. I keep a list of books I’ve read on my computer. I use and Amazon to preview books and to check on series orders. I use a Kindle(several in fact) so I don’t mind Amazon.

  16. I saw many persons anxious about that, but I confess I don’t hate amazon, mainly when I buy so many books on it too. I’m curious to see what will really change but for me it’s not a problem. I think we’ll see after that.

  17. I’m sure there will be some changes some people won’t like but there will probably be good changes too. I don’t think there will be much of a difference with Amazon owning it though.
    I hate when people rate a book they have never read, especially ones that haven’t been released. It makes no sense.

  18. I’m kind of waiting to see what happens. I have some problems with Amazon- in particular their dropping their buy 4 get 1 free that I had used forever when ordering enough books to avoid the shipping. I now tend to do much more shopping around for better prices before auto ordering what I want from Amazon.
    I too live in a very small town so up till now- 90% of my new book purchases came from Amazon. Now, Walmart or Target gets first shot at my book purchases. And though I will read NR any day, I do like a lot of different genres/authors that Wal-mart may not carry. So we’ll see what changes.