How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers
With 20 million members (a number some have noted is close to the population of Australia) and a reputation as a place where readers meet to trade information and share their excitement about books, the social networking site Goodreads has always appeared to be one of the more idyllic corners of the Internet. The site sold to Amazon for an estimated $900 million this spring, and Goodreads recommendations and data have been integrated into the new Kindle Paperwhite devices, introducing a whole new group of readers to the bookish community.
But if, at a casual glance, the two companies -- Goodreads and Amazon -- seem to be made for each other, look again. A small but growing faction of longtime, deeply involved Goodreads members are up in arms about recent changes to the site's enforcement of its policies on what members are permitted to say when reviewing books, and many of them blame the crackdown on the Amazon deal. They've staged a protest of sorts, albeit one that's happening mostly out of the public eye. Their charge is censorship and their accusation is, in the words of one rebel, that Goodreads and Amazon want "to kill the vibrant, creative community that was once here, and replace it with a canned community of automaton book cheerleaders."