I didn’t join Goodreads. Mostly because until recently I didn’t know what it was or what I would want to join for. Many authors and friends had suggested via facebook I should join, and that only made me less likely to do so, because I assumed it was another facebook game or oddity. When I finally realized it consisted of normal people, well, as normal as any one who would join something called Goodreads–meaning lovers of the written word–are, the grassroots group sold out to the man, as the kids in my youth would say. They sold their original nice friendly swapping of what members enjoyed and didn’t like to the Robber Baron devil of Amazon. On the Goodreads home page, the list owners describe the merger as ‘joining the Amazon family.’ Family is a very loose term here. Family of what? The worst example of corporate greed? The avowed practice of running independent bookstores and chains out of business with any method they can conjure up? A family of tricksters and avarice so bloated they make deals with the publishers to exclude all others in pricing e-books?
A fun family that kept contract workers on a string with promises of permanent jobs by working them nearly to death in 0ver 100 degrees with so many passing out they needed an ambulance to stand by, instead of supplying air flow by opening the doors or installing air-conditioning? (after this bru-ha-ha, they finally installed air) If by family you mean beyond dysfunctional and outright sociopathic, then yes, they’ve joined a family.
I don’t know the originator’s of this idea. I’m sure they are lovely kind individuals who only wanted a community to share talking about their latest reads. Many lists on yahoo or elsewhere were begun in this manner–I belong to a couple–but inevitably the topics have changed to any thing one is interested in discussing. That’s where Goodreads differed–it maintained a definite focus of reviewing books. And that’s wonderful–a global kind of book-club. Unlike the ‘reviews’ Amazon has on their site that tend to either gush or degrade, the reviews I’ve seen via Goodreads have been generally well thought out and fair. Well, expect all of that to change. Once a corporation puts its hands into the matter, it either disappears, which is probably what Amazon really wants it to do, or the corporation will find ways of making it pay heaps of money. There is no other reason Bezos would acquire it otherwise. If you can’t beat your competition–buy it. One of the mainstays of big capitalism, isn’t it? And if you prefer that people on the internet are not reviewing books you are selling–unless they are on your site and you can control them, then how do you stop the spread of this contagion? Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear way of wiping this phenomenon out–like he is working so diligently to do with brick and mortar stores, but if one buys the competition, then lack of interest and downplaying or simply closing the entire thing down, eliminates said competition. If Amazon sees a way to make more money, and control more of reader’s opinions, then by all means grab it, and work it until a cash cow it becomes.
I understand the motives of the people who started this thing ‘in their living room’. They would like to make money–I’m sure they have been compensated quite a bit by Amazon, and now can walk away into the book sunset reading and discussing away in finery, lush vacation spots and jeweled book covers–whoops, kindle covers–because now that they’ve attained some wealth, and are part of that fantastic family–I’m sure real books are a thing of their past–their beneficent partner is bound to supply them till the end of their days with free kindles, right?
I wouldn’t bet on anything remotely like that. If there is one thing Bezos and Amazon are not–are givers. Like a true sociopath, they have no conscience, no guilt, no emotional ties to people, pets, and God knows books. The only thing that matters is winning–winning the game called running all competition to the ground, or absorbing it, like some science fiction creature on a Star Trek episode. And like sociopaths, they can fake emotions, say all the right things to make themselves seem lovable and cuddly, even can be a charismatic charmer of a corporation. All the easier for it to manipulate and control the public. One of the reasons we who do have consciences, guilt, emotions, empathy cannot see those who don’t is because we can not comprehend the idea of people who do not. It is outside our understanding for a person or corporation to deliberately and maliciously try to destroy even little indie bookstores during support your local business weeks, the way Amazon did when “Amazon was encouraging customers to go into brick-and-mortar bookstores on Saturday, and use its price-check app (which allows shoppers in physical stores to see, by scanning a bar code, if they can get a better price online) to earn a 5 percent credit on Amazon purchases (up to $5 per item, and up to three items.)” We who have consciences would not utilize this option–even more so, would never dream it up to begin with.
My point, as it is every time I write about some new offense Amazon has committed, is not that capitalism is bad. I love capitalism, when not out of control and in the hands of people like Amazon. Oh, you think I should have used Bezos–not the corp’s name? Wish that were so. The Supreme Court in it’s wisdom has claimed that corporations ARE people. Whether the corp is a person or the man who owns the corp is also considered a person, Goodreads is now in its hands and not those who joined it thinking it was an independent way of expressing viewpoints about books.