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Commentary on the interaction of behavior and reviews.
For those who can't link (ie. Dan):
Book community Goodreads was bought by Amazon earlier this year, part of the impetus for my blog development. Nothing against Amazon as a retailer–I use their services and have a Kindle–but they have strict language restrictions for reviews, even if you are quoting from the text. I think I contributed about four reviews there before I decided their process was too cumbersome and unsatisfying, partly because of the lack of community connection. What makes GR unique is the connection to groups of other readers–it is easy to get to know a particular reviewer, their reading habits and tastes. In addition, Amazon’s indie book reviews are sock-puppet heavy, so I rarely rely on Amazon as a site of information. Incidentally, I also find their graphics visually displeasing. At any rate, the purchase was inevitable, if only to establish Amazon as primary retailer for books and the general collection of market data.
I understand the reasoning, but part of the charm of GR is a very engaged, literate community that largely says whatever it wants, within reason, in their reviews about books and authors. GR has long had a “secret sauce” recipe for promoting certain reviews, but there is an independent ‘like’ system that operates as well. Goodreads recently set its community on edge with a new policy against discussing author behavior in reviews and the unwarned deletion of user reviews and shelving, in an effort that is widely viewed an attempt to promote product and censor reviewers in favor of authors. The fact that reviews referring specifically to an author’s behavior in a negative manner were removed, and reviews discussing positive behavior remain only fuels the suspicion that the connection is about negative reviews and sales, not about a true review ideology. Regardless of their stated or unstated meaning, the idea that behavior does not impact product is the ultimate in capitalist reasoning, and I can’t ethically keep my concerns quiet.
The Book Riot did a podcast last week that brings up the Goodreads controversy regarding author behavior. It's at the beginning, so don't be intimidated by the length of the cast. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness the host brought to the discussion--it sounds like one of them is active on Goodreads, so had a more accurate perspective of what has been happening.