Remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star? When I think of the Goodreads buyout I can't help humming the tune and substituting the chorus lines as "Kindle killed the indie bookstore".
As the original song says, "we can't rewind we've gone too far". By embracing the Kindle we've built Amazon into a mega powerhouse that can easily swallow our favorite book related social sites with a wink and a nod.
We watched our favorite mom and pop book stores close up shop and felt our jaw drop just a little when Borders closed their doors. We built an online book world through our purchasing choices and now we're calling foul as a power struggle forms to establish the biggest online entity.
We can claim Amazon is a bully, a monopoly, etc, but if it is, we are the buyers that built that house. It's a simple principle, feed it and it will grow.
Authors and publishers have been in a tizzy since March 28, 2013 when the news went out that Amazon would be acquiring Goodreads. I seriously think we need to take a deep breath, step back and ask ourselves "is this entirely bad?"
Let's face it, regardless of your position on this deal, Amazon is a very clever marketer. Their owners think intuitively and grab their competition when the opportunity presents. That's not a monopoly, that's good business practice.
According to Goodreads, they have "more than 16 million members and there are more than 30,000 books clubs on the Goodreads site."
They go on to explain that "members have added more than 530 million books to their shelves and written more than 23 million reviews." This is a fantastic acquisition for Amazon and they are smart to attempt it.
Amazon recognizes their strength is sales and targeted marketing while Goodreads boasts a friendly common man approach in a social community packed full of book lovers. Combined they could provide readers, especially Kindle fans, with the powerhouse book selling strategies of Amazon and the community conversation of Goodreads.
If done wisely, with respect for readers and authors who have a vested interest, it could be a fantastic merger.
I don't for a minute believe that this buyout is a game changer in the publishing industry as multiple sources claim. I think the game changer happened with the creation of the Kindle, which we all eagerly embraced. Its rampant success paved the way for this moment.
Goodreads admits that members have asked them to provide Kindle resources, now they can. Their site could get stronger and better. Meanwhile Amazon will obviously benefit from behind the scenes data sharing that enable them to market better to the customer- -you and your readers.
In spite of the tear-lined logos and twitter rants, I suspect this merger will be a good thing for self-published indie authors, especially those publishing on Amazon. There are multiple members on the CWA Review Crew who do not post reviews on Amazon because they would have to provide a credit card to build a profile and that's uncomfortable to them (or they're really smart and don't have a credit card). Instead of Amazon, they post on Goodreads. If these sources combine to fill in the gaps this could double an author's reviews and boost sales.
The future is uncertain. As readers, authors and customers we will help shape it by what we embrace.