Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banned Books Week Post #3...more concerns about silence

♡KarLynP♡, a Goodreader, posted this message on the Feeedback thread that threatens to swallow the internet due to its length.

"The following article came out a few hours ago and gives several recent quotes from GR mgmt, VP of communications Suzanne Skyvara"

I then posted this expansion on the theme:

This para {in that article} explains the silence about the concerns on this thread:
“Over time we plan to better use all of the data we have around reviews so that we are putting the best reviews – the ones that will be most interesting and useful – at the top. This is a big data problem, and we are hiring a data scientist to work on it. At the same time, we already personalize how you see reviews – you see your friends’ reviews first and then you see reviews by people you follow, all people that you know and trust.”

It's official, from someone at GR. They are deliberately becoming Amazon. So all the hollering and all the points we've all made are, in the end, for naught. They aren't going to make any compromises, they aren't interested in user input, they are the big boy on the block and we aren't. Fuck a bunch of the people whose labor made them rich.

All good things come to an end. The good Goodreads is over. I'll still be here, but will fade into irrelevance (I wonder if I was ever actually relevant) because I'll participate less and less as I move my data.

And it won't matter a speck. The site will go on, the relevance will remain, until someone one day twigs to the fact that this is Amazon now. Like Shelfari, Goodreads will just be a sales mouthpiece for the corpocracy. Indie authors beware: When Amazon is done bludgeoning the publishing industry into submission with y'all's work, you'll see what it feels like to be pressured in a way you can't even fathom yet.

For me, I'm going to shout from the wilderness. I'll post protests and I'll post reviews that are explicitly anti-censorship and tie them into these concerns. And most people will learn to ignore me, more than they already do, because "what's that noisy old coot hollering for?" is easier, safer, less trouble than thinking about what this explicit statement means for your own future."

Then I saw a very good Mediabistro article about why censorship is censorship even when the censors say it's not. This piece shows there is some reasonable hope of interest in the topic {of Goodreads' ham-fisted censorchip} remaining alive. But with Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite including a Goodreads app from the get-go, it's easy to see why Goodreads must change its old, open culture of discussion and opinionated debate to suit Amazon's horrendous, untrustworthy Land of the Five-star Review Or Else sales sales sales or bust ethos. It's disheartening still, but it's clear why it had to happen.

Still, I'd remind those whose butthurt instigated this debacle in the first place of the Soviet-era Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov's words about censorship:
To struggle against censorship, whatever its nature, and whatever the power under which it exists, is my duty as a writer, as are calls for freedom of the press. I am a passionate supporter of that freedom, and I consider that if any writer were to imagine that he could prove he didn't need that freedom, then he would be like a fish affirming in public that it didn't need water.


  1. Bingo! You said it so much better than I could.

    I understand why this had to happen. I knew that this was going to happen. But this is a form of censorship and it is not ok.

    1. Thank you for the compliment! I wish I could feel peppy and upbeat about the future of Goodreads. I just can't.

  2. I suppose the day Otis and Elizabeth sold GR to Amazon, they sold away our freedom of speech along with it.
    I am worried about the volume of creative reviews on GR by Ian, Manny and Paul Bryant are going to disappear too. Because they weren't always about the books.
    At least I have a book blog now.

    1. We must all take steps to back our own work up, and I am sure Paul, Manny, and Ian have done that.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.