News in the book world was dominated last week by the announcement that Amazon, online retailer of pretty much any item you can think of (and many you can't) marched out and purchased GoodReads, the online book community where bibliophiles get to keep track of the books they own, the books they want to own, the books they threw across a room, etc and so on.
Apparently, many book lovers out there spied a conspiracy of the worst order.
People were cancelling their Goodreads accounts left and right in protest (yet, presumably, not their Amazon accounts?). But hey, A Reader's Respite happens to live in the tree-hugging, Commie-lovin' Pacific Northwest, where PROTEST comes naturally, so we respect that. Us Seattle-ites will protest just about anything:
Yet in this particular case, A Reader's Respite finds ourselves reserving judgement. We make a lot of purchases from Amazon. Not because of their pricing, but because they have every book we could ever dream of in stock and, living in the Seattle area, if we place an order by 8am, that book is on our doorstep by 4pm, without exception. If we could find a local independent bookstore that provided that service, we'd use it, even if it cost more.
Many people are also concerned about Amazon using Goodreads to force sales via advertising. We're not really buying that argument yet, if only because Goodreads has been forcing advertisements down our throats for years now. Just last week, for example, you couldn't visit the site without the large, flashing advertisement for the movie (not even the book, but the movie for pete's sake!) The Host taking over the entire home screen.
Another concern is that Amazon will take away the current variety of purchasing options on Goodreads. A valid concern for those who use those links to purchase their books. Personally, if A Reader's Respite spies a book we must have, we simply open a new tab, type in Amazon.com, find the book and buy it. We're not sure why loyal Barnes and Noble customers or Abebooks peeps (also owned by Amazon, by the way) couldn't do the same for their book buying site of choice.
And of course, the use of Goodreads patron's bookshelves as data mining is one more concern. Frankly, we have to admit that we fail to see how this is a bad thing if it helps Amazon stock the books people want to read.
Needless to say, A Reader's Respite did not delete our Goodreads account in protest. We like the community there. We like the ease of finding out what our friends and like-minded bibliophiles are reading and taking our recommendations from them. Of course we don't exclude the possibility that the Evil Amazon Empire might nefariously corrupt the entire Goodreads community and ruin all of our fun. But until that happens, you'll find us over there on a daily basis, chatting away with our online book clubs and not feeling the least bit guilty about that.
And if we are really lucky, mayhap Amazon will fix the server over at Goodreads and we won't be faced with this "down for maintenance" image several times a week:
PS....and before anyone accuses us of putting independent bookstores out of business by purchasing from Amazon, we should let it be known that there is not ONE independent bookseller in our tiny little neck of the woods on the opposite shore of Seattle. On the occasion that we do venture forth out of hick-ville and happen to spy an independent bookstore, we are magnetically drawn in and rarely leave without at least $100 worth of books. We have a non-bookstore-discrimination policy around here...if you sell books, we will buy them. It's a sickness.