BREAKING IN THE PUBLISHING WORLD: AMAZON ACQUIRES GOODREADS FOR UNSPECIFIED SUM.
Which can either be very good or very, very bad for authors.
Expected to close the deal in Q2 of this year, I can already see the worry sprouting on my Facebook page. Rightly so, I should think. Amazon is a shady character. Yes, they offer 70% of the royalties to self published authors in one hand but in the other they turn around and prevent authors from leaving reviews on other authors pages. Which worries me when Annie! comes out because I’m also a blogger who does reviews for authors under the same name that my books will sport.
Now, for all intents and purposes I can just turn around and use my real name to write reviews, but that’s not the point is it? I’m working really hard to get R.J. Keith out there, to give this name an audience, and Amazon is sticking its elongated snout up at me and telling me ‘no’.
Well because doesn’t really work for me there, buck-o. I need a damn good reason, and giving a blanket statement of ‘keeping a level playing field between authors’ isn’t really working for me. Especially when Amazon is being sued (among others) for price fixing.
Here’s the thing you should know about me. I don’t trust businesses, especially big businesses. Or people. No, I love people. I want to love people. I’m just…careful? We’ll go with careful.
I’m the kind of person that watches documentaries and does research and I also watch these crime shows on Investigation Discovery, and it’s all a giant mess because I’ll probably never get married due to paranoia over being killed for my life insurance policy.
I’ve seen enough crime shows to let them mess with my head, sure. But the dominating factor in most–if not all–of the cases I’ve seen, is money.
Dollars. Dinero. Greenbacks. Bucks. Quid. Pound. Yen.
Money, money, money. Makes the world go round.
And that’s how I’m looking at this acquisition of Goodreads by Amazon.
Amazon itself has over 16 million customers. Goodreads has something along the lines of 4 million users. Acquiring the social media platform will–by Amazon’s thinking–drive customers into their welcoming arms by Goodreads users recommendations of books to their friends and followers. Which is a pretty sweet deal. Social media helps sales by getting the word out. Half of my book selection comes from what I see that interests me on Facebook.
The problem with this equation is the same problem that’s been run into ever since Amazon decided that e-books were the next awesome thing.
Digital rights that only allow books that were downloaded and bought off of Amazon to be read only on a Kindle device or Kindle app. Which is great for Amazon because it allows them to control their content and who gets to read it. Want to read this book but don’t have a Kindle? That’s okay, get the app! Oh, you don’t have a phone/tablet? You poor poor dear. Whelp, sorry. NEXT!
And it’s not just Amazon. The Nook from Barnes and Noble is the same way. Don’t have the device but want the book? Sorry sweetie, maybe next time.
By manipulating the DRM system, companies are pushing people to their devices. The demand is there and they are more than willing to supply. For a price.
By offering itself up as the biggest supplier and publisher of books, Amazon has a huge grip on the market. Want people to see your book? Publish with Amazon. Why? Well if you don’t, good luck getting it sold. Granted, they soften the blow with 70% of the royalties earned, but they still have authors by the shorthairs. B&N, Smashwords, Lulu, even Apple are secondary because Amazon has made itself very appealing to self published authors.
So, Amazon has acquired Goodreads on the basis of social media and expanding its reach to new customers. On one hand it can be very good for authors, expanding their own reach by proxy. More customers for Amazon means more chances to entice readers to pick up their book, Goodreads can be sucked into the KDP system whereby if you’re a Goodreads member, the loaning system applies (it’s a stretch, I know, but it could happen). More customers means more reviewers and more interaction for authors with their readers by use of Goodreads forums/author pages/discussion/book club boards. Amazon could very well bring in a more fluid recommendation system where readers are getting a more targeted selection based on their reviews and what their read/want to read selections are.
That would be nice to see from the readers side, let me tell you.
On the other hand, Amazon could continue doing what it’s doing and feature best selling authors (Anne Rice, Stephen King, etc) while hiding the self published or independently published authors from potential new readers. Reviews by authors for authors could continue to be flagged and deleted, and there could be a sequester of what Goodreads offers in addition to generating reviews for books. I could easily see Amazon making Goodreads a ‘members only’ website whereby you have to pay a monthly/yearly fee to get access to the site and its benefits.
And none of this is personal. It’s just business. Good business, if I’m honest. As much as I hate it and worry what is going to happen down the road.
Authors Note: I’m one (un-published) person in a sea of authors. The above entry is completely my own opinion based on what I’ve read and what I understand about business. Am I wrong? Probably. Tell me if I am! Have a different opinion? Tell me! I want to hear YOUR opinions on the matter. This isn’t a one sided conversation here, lovelies. Tell me what you think in the comments section!