Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads is getting quite a bit of press right now. I was called a few hours before the announcement and told that it was coming. The first thing that blurted out of my mouth was: “This is like finding out my mom is marrying that cool dude next door that I’ve been palling around with.” The person on the other end of the line laughed and asked if they could use that in the press release. I typed up a version and included it was.

I understand that there will be a lot of hand-wringing over the acquisition. To many, Amazon is an evil corporation hellbent on destroying the world. They have made these intentions clear by paying authors a shitload and fighting to lower the price of books for readers. I think we can all agree that authors and readers are scum, and this preferential treatment on the part of Amazon should be looked at with complete distrust.

The reality is that everyone I know at Amazon, from top to bottom, loves books. They love readers. They love authors. I think this permeates the company because of the passion Jeff Bezos holds for all things book. He has made it a goal to get more people reading and more people writing than at any time in human history. Because of Amazon (largely Amazon), more people are making a living at writing than ever before. Because of Amazon (largely Amazon), books are more affordable than ever before.

There’s a false assumption out there that the book industry is waging internal battles. I saw this during my book tour, as conversations about self vs. traditional and indie bookstore vs. B&N and e-book vs. print and paperback vs. hardback flew and raged. Meanwhile, most of the people in the cities I visited strolled by bookstores without glancing inside. Most of the people in the airports weren’t reading. We are fighting amongst ourselves while the real battle is ignored.

There are more ways to entertain oneself now. Ways that consume less effort, time, and money. You can read Facebook all day for free (internet and cell-phones being as much a necessity as power and water these days). You can watch TV, play videogames, walk your dog, or a billion other things. Our war is to get more people reading (and writing, but that’s more my war, I think). Amazon and Goodreads have been fighting that war. If anyone thinks the fighting has been between them, I don’t know that they’ve looked up from their books and studied the landscape.

Yes, the publishing industry is going through some changes. Bookstores are getting squeezed, and that’s sad. But the bookstores that add to the reading and writing experience are doing well (indie bookstores are up 8%). The bookstores that are hellbent on carrying more boardgames and fewer books aren’t doing as well. It’s good to keep in mind that consumers are driving these changes. Just as record stores closed, so are bookstores feeling the digital crunch. Blaming whatever company caters to our demand seems odd to me.

Another group getting the squeeze are the publishers. Note that it’s the middlemen, the distributors, that are hurting. The reader and author are benefiting. So when we say that the new regime is hurting the book industry, we are saying that authors should earn less and readers pay more so that people in the middle can pay Manhattan and High Street rent. That we’ve allowed the PR machines to shape the debate thusly seems surreal to me. I’m sad for all the travel agents who have had to find new jobs, but I love my ability to search for flights, book them, and print my boarding pass from home. The new world rocks. I wish the change wasn’t painful for some while it improves the lives of most, but that’s what happens.

I can think of a dozen ways this acquisition might make my life better as both a reader and an author. Right now, I spend a lot of time on both sites in both capacities. My guess is that we won’t see many changes at all. I’m betting that the real acquisition here is all the data behind the scenes. The algorithms that tell me what to buy (and almost always nail it) are going to get better. The social networks that feed my reading habit are going to get stronger. The people who helped make Goodreads awesome are going to get richer. And the people at Amazon, who I have gotten to know this past year and who to a man and woman love the fuck out of some books, are going to keep trying to get the right ones in the hands of readers.

Hell yeah. So many ways this can be good for all involved. I’m still trying to think of a way it could suck.

 

73 Responses to “Amazon and Goodreads”

  1. I agree with every word you wrote. Even the naughty ones.

    Excellent post, Hugh.

  2. Red Scott says:

    Amazon already bought Shelfari and preceded to do absolutely zero with it. I very much hope you’re right, but I have to admit being a bit pessimistic given their history in this market segment.

    • J.D.E. says:

      It seems to be that these types of sites are usually acquired (at least initially) for the data which is folded back into the main Amazon site. And of course to get the Amazon name and shopping cart buttons in there.

      Otherwise they generally leave the site fairly untouched… take IMDB for example, despite being owned by Amazon it is still run by the same group of guys that started it way back when.

      It’s really hard to get a site like this going… Amazon tried doing it once with as site called sound unwound (for music, as you might guess) and it never really took off. So it would seem the strategy these days is to just buy them for the data and users and let them carry on.

      Maybe this kind of sucks… but what exactly did you want them to do with them? Why would they want to risk their brilliant data mine if people are still happily using it?

  3. Excellent post – I agree with you 100%!

  4. I think this is exciting news!! Thank you for this post.

  5. RrustyDawg says:

    Amazon (more specifically Kindle Fire) raised my reading exponentially. It really didn’t change the $$$ I spent on books…just allowed me to spread my money around to more authors.

    But as I read more, I wanted better reviews and recommendations for my “to be read” list than what I got from Amazon. Goodreads provided the missing elements that I was looking for.

    Seems like a good fit to me.

  6. Derek says:

    Does that mean Amazon will pull reviews from Goodreads, so my lazy butt won’t have to leave as many reviews when I finish a book?

  7. Travis says:

    if it weren’t for Hugh Howey inspiring me to write (goofy white dudes unite!) and Kindle Direct Publishing making it easy, friendly and free, i would not have written two books (so far). and even if they aren’t amazing books, or even if no one buys them, i don’t care. HH and amazon have turned me onto a hobby that i simply love and i will always be grateful to both because of it.

  8. Well said, Hugh! :-)

    This is a long-term positive development for both readers (Yin) and writers (Yang) — the people who care about books the most — in this literary whole-world equation.

  9. I think that may have been the best post I’ve ever read about the evil Amazon empire.

    The PR machine is powerful. I even hear fellow authors badmouthing Amazon, as if traditional publishers have a particularly tasty flavor of Kool-Aid.

    Surreal, indeed.

  10. TheWhistle says:

    You luddite you!

  11. Excellent comments, Hugh. I expect this Amazon announcement to get a lot of bad press–from those who feel threatened by the success of Amazon and those of us authors associated with it. I admire Jeff Bezos and am thankful for the opportunities he has given authors. And readers love Amazon, too.

  12. Lee Goldberg says:

    Great post, Hugh. I agree wholeheartedly with your take on Amazon and especially what they have done for authors.

    Lee

  13. Gary Ponzo says:

    The strange part is the publishers could have bought Goodreads and directly affected what people read. Or they could’ve developed their own Ereader and given them away at cost in order to get readers to buy their property. Or they could’ve sold Ebooks on their own website. Or . . . I could go on, but I’m sure some executive at a publishing house in NY will use these ideas I’m proposing . . . five years from now.

    • The day publishers approach their jobs by asking what they can do for readers is the day they turn it all around.

      • Isabelle says:

        I work for a publishing company as a senior editor (Boston). Okay, we work on textbooks, but still, we are going towards digital. And that’s what the other companies around here are doing too.

    • Geoff Burling says:

      Uh, no, one of the big publishing houses couldn’t have bought Goodreads. There is a very good why they never should have seriously considered it: anti-trust laws.

      Consider what kind of advantage if one of the big 6 (or 5 or 4 or whatever) owned the NYT Book Review or the New York Review of Books: owning one of those would mean that publisher could simply ignore all books published by its rivals. No reviews, decreased visibility, fewer sales,, fewer profits.

      And even if that wasn’t the case, the hassle of acquiring that property would make it not worth it. No such objection exists if Amazon acquires Goodread, because Amazon sells books from all sources.

      I’m not saying that the acquisition is a good thing. (I’m still not decided on that.) I’m simply pointing out that even if they wanted to, the BPHs probably couldn’t have acquired Goodreads.

  14. ” I was called a few hours before the announcement and told that it was coming.”

    Yeah . . . and you teased us on Kindle Boards for an hour . . . good thing the F4 and F6 keys still have lables on them . . .

  15. Miss ZP says:

    Wow, I love your comment. Hope anyone else can be more objective in this ‘case’. Sometimes, what we thought was bad thing, turnout become greater than before. Nice share. Thank you! :D

  16. TwistedSciFi says:

    One of the things I liked most about Goodreads was that it was independent and offered links to purchase books from places besides Amazon like Smashwords, among others-I imagine this will go away. I have always been drawn to the site as a place for book-loving Bohemians to congregate, post their honest opinions and share a virtual coffee or beer. I can’t be the only person reading your post who’s concerned that Goodread’s spirit of freedom and independence will slip away as part of a worldwide corporation. I’m also not hypocritical enough to suggest that if Amazon showed up at my door with a big check that I wouldn’t sign on the dotted line…but it doesn’t make me excited about the fact that this has happened.

    As a reader & reviewer the current Goodreads platform allows for a more robust review with live links and formatting (bold, italics, etc.) right in the review. I enjoy this element of control-which is absent with Amazon reviews, and will be curious to see if Amazon pulls back on some of the freedoms available to readers, reviewers and authors as the acquisition moves forward.

    Thanks for being brave and sharing an opinion that may not resonate with all Hugh! Oh, and keep writing!

    • RLB Hartmann says:

      What I didn’t like about Goodreads (I’m still there…for now) was that even though I gained “librarian” status, it was impossible to list my own Create Space titles without a HUGE hassle. GR insisted that I link directly to Amazon, though I have several good reasons for not wanting to do that. Now, I guess even a HUGE hassle won’t let me direct Goodreads readers to my CS novel profile pages. Well, there’s always my own website….

  17. B.C. Young says:

    This news came as quite a shock. Especially since about a year ago, Amazon strong-armed Goodreads into submission by not allowing data to be pulled from their site for books. Goodreads stopped listing any books that were only on Amazon when this happened. Now I see what happened. Amazon made a power play to try and shut down Goodreads with a successful Shelfari. Instead, this failed and they opted to by Goodreads instead. The real winner here are the owners of Goodreads. I’m sure they made out real good in this deal.

  18. Jeffrey J. Johnson says:

    I agree with everything Hugh says but do so with some hesitation. While self-publishing has become incredibly liberating for writers it is also responsible for a lot of dreck, much if not most of it propagated by Amazon. While conventional publishing is a pretty closed ecosystem, it does set some standard of quality. Fortunately, in this case, Goodreads has proven an effective tool for identifying worthwhile reading, and their integration with Amazon can only be a good thing for readers.

    Secondly, I am greatly dismayed by the demise of bookstores in Northern Virginia, most likely due to the dominance of Amazon, although I confess I enjoy the convenience of Amazon and easily accessible e-books. During my recent visit to Charlottesville I was delighted to discover a town where a bookstore culture still exists and is valued, so I guess they haven’t disappeared altogether.

    • Jim Johnson says:

      I don’t know why there aren’t more good bookstores in NOVA, but I don’t think you can blame Amazon.

      Loudoun County is one of the most affluent counties in the entire country and we have….a couple of BAM outlets. The Borders in Sterling closed. There are a few B&Ns in surrounding counties, but nothing in Loudoun. Not even a decent indie bookstores. It boggles the mind that no one has tried to tap into the market here.

      • Jeffrey J. Johnson says:

        The BAM stores in Sterling and Reston have closed, and now B&N in Reston is closing. I agree there is an opportunity here for an independent bookstore to come in and do well, Loudoun County is supposedly one of the most well-read counties in the nation.

  19. Karen H. says:

    I love putting my books up on Amazon and having an income that way, and I love that so many people are buying ebooks. But I’m suspicious nevertheless of the company, simply because I really do not feel comfortable with so much power accumulating in one place. Power does corrupt even the most well-intentioned person.

    • Thus far, Amazon has been a force for breaking through walls of corruption. Pay has gone up for authors; prices have gone down for readers.

      We can hate based on what we fear might eventually happen or we can celebrate what we know from the evidence of our eyes to have already happened. More and more people seem comfortable doing the former and not the latter.

      • Al says:

        I’m disheartened by the dismissive lack of nuance in your characterization of Amazon’s role in the publishing industry or the reasons why so many people find aspects of their mode of business questionable.

        I know you’ve actually heard the arguments against Amazon or questioning it so I’m not sure why you’re mischaracterizing them here.

        • Marc Cabot says:

          “Mischaracterizing” and “dismissing as a lot of rent-seeking nonsense” are not the same thing.

          I’m not saying he’s doing either, but if I had to guess, I think I’d be more likely to guess the latter than the former.

      • Eva Martinson says:

        Yeah, what you said, up there and down here.

  20. Nikki says:

    Wow this is super exciting! I spend so much time on both of these sites because of the amazing things that are available to readers! I always make sure to post my book reviews on both my Goodreads and Amazon accounts as well as cross checking all the awesome book recommendations that come from both. It’s fabulous to see two book power hubs joining forces!

    WOOHOO!

  21. William Jacques says:

    The leviathan sucks more and more oxygen out of the evaporating pond of readership.. so independents (booksellers as well as sites) need to find niches of personalization to survive. Is it a “bad” thing? Not if a benevolent dictator like Beznos controls – but don’t soporifically deceive yourself, concentrations of power often inhibit creativity.

    • Jim Johnson says:

      Maybe this will be the kick in the ass someone needs to get innovating to challenge Amazon?

      In the meantime, I’m excited at the possibilities.

    • Amazon is what has un-concentrated the power. Everything in NY has been coasting along. This is what a creative disruptor looks like.

      • Al says:

        While the publishing industry is definitely broken in many ways, Amazon is not a friend of the readers. Amazon is the friend of making Amazon money. If that means screwing over readers and authors at various points (and I’ve had friends have their books delisted by Amazon because Amazon pressured them and htey didn’t cave), Amazon will happily do so. They aren’t some force for good.

        • They’ve been a force for good for me for many years, first as a customer and now as an author. They consistently rank near the top in customer service; returning anything to them is a breeze; they add to the Prime service all the time; and nobody has been better to authors.

          The major dings against Amazon:

          1. They don’t pay local taxes. I’m not sure I understand why they should. I’m more concerned about churches not paying property tax or income tax.
          2. Our downtowns are deteriorating. Except they aren’t. That trend away from mom-and-pop shops started before Amazon came along and has reversed in recent years. Downtown areas are revitalizing, and more people are supporting local establishments.
          3. They make too much money. This is obviously a bad thing in the eyes of many. I don’t get it. They make a lot of money because they make a lot of customers happy.
          4. They are bad for books. By selling more of them than anyone else? By delivering them to your home? By selling hardbacks at paperback prices? Again, not sure I understand.

          I’m sorry your friends were delisted. I had my recent debut not available at B&N because of a dispute between them and my publisher. Everyone has an anecdote. Publishers and bookstores can be just as abusive as Amazon. Our biases are amplified by these observations, I think.

          • Al says:

            They should pay local tax because the businesses that compete with them (that they help drive out of business) are local and do. They are basically competing on a non-level field.

            As to brick and mortar stores, well, a friend of mine just had to close his bookstore, one of the oldest in San Francisco. Inability to compete with Amazon, among others, was a key factor. The net result, one of the oldest bookstores in the area is gone.

            Have you really not read or heard any of the criticisms offered by publishers and authors (and I don’t just meant the Big Five) on how Amazon may not be good for books in the long run?

          • Al says:

            Let me ask, is Walmart good for shopping because they offer so many choices at a cheaper price than local stores? Are there no secondary effects?

            Personally, I use Goodreads *because* it is independent of any of the publishers, including Amazon. I expect I will quit using it now.

          • Walmart is great for shopping. They help poor families enjoy many of the things that others take for granted. I don’t hate big and successful entities. I’m not saying that others can’t, but I don’t.

            I put the trends in the market at the foot of the consumer. Shoppers cause these changes. Nobody forces us to shop where we shop.

            And from where I sit, as both a reader and a writer, Amazon has been amazing for books. The Kindle has helped revitalize reading. Thousands of authors are now able to support themselves and concentrate on their craft. Amazon almost single-handedly made that happen. I’ll stick up for them all day long.

          • greg says:

            The major dings against Amazon:

            1. They don’t pay local taxes. I’m not sure I understand why they should. I’m more concerned about churches not paying property tax or income tax.

            I think they should. pay local taxes. They fought it tooth and nail because it would level the playing field with retail outlets. I wonder how much money they threw at the idiots in DC on that one? Also churches should not be 501C. But they should be allowed to deduct the cost of doing charity work.

            2. Our downtowns are deteriorating. Except they aren’t. That trend away from mom-and-pop shops started before Amazon came along and has reversed in recent years. Downtown areas are revitalizing, and more people are supporting local establishments.

            Looking back into history the ups and downs of “downtown” has always been a generational thing. Downtown’s for the most part become abandoned because of tax supported services. More personal responsibility (poilcing your own neighborhood would be a start) But power hungry individuals like to control, and there is no shortage of them.

            3. They make too much money. This is obviously a bad thing in the eyes of many. I don’t get it. They make a lot of money because they make a lot of customers happy.

            No gripe with them making money, it’s how they use it. Lobbying congress to get ‘favors’ should be a crime. Didn’t our liar in chief say he would end that? Right! And their CS is excellent, as you pointed out.

            4. They are bad for books. By selling more of them than anyone else? By delivering them to your home? By selling hardbacks at paperback prices? Again, not sure I understand.

            I agree their business model has been great for books and readers. But no one can overlook the imoact that tthey have on local retailers who have to pay local taxes and licensense fees just to turn the key. Lets put all online retailers on the same footing as locals ans allow the consumer decide with their FRN’s.

            BTW: My reply to you in the Freedom post couldn’t be made.(reply limit reached) so I replied via eMail. Look for it.

  22. James says:

    The only thing that makes me nervous is that Goodreads was a place for reviews and comments that had no ulterior motive. It was a place for people who simply liked reading.

    Amazon reviews can be and are largely gamed in an effort to generate sales. (Not commenting on whether this is wrong or right–it is what it is).

    I just don’t want to see Goodreads reviews become what Amazon reviews are.

    The saying is, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, I can’t judge a book by its Amazon review either. There are glowing reviews for crap and 1-star reviews because the commenter got a flat tire the day he posted that review.

    At least Goodreads has some consistency with its reviews. And I can see that going away if they hold any bearing or influence over sales (which likely, they will).

    • Maddox says:

      “Goodreads was a place for reviews and comments that had no ulterior motive.”

      I think you are fooling yourself in thinking that the review system on Goodreads is any less subject to curruption and bogus reviews than Amazon’s.

  23. TheWhistle says:

    You know, I recently read an indie book, I think it was called “The Book”. All about a government that gives away free ereaders. The thing is the powers that be change the storyline of books for their own purposes. Thus begins an underground of print book collectors. While I read this on my Kindle I felt very creepy, certainly at the beginning. Worth reading, very Bradbury like.

  24. Bailey Bednar says:

    I can’t wait for your next book! I’m a Wool-ite! or is it Wool-ist?

    Either way I’m an addict and you feed my addiction.

  25. William Jacques says:

    The recent “revitalization” of independent stores and local shops may not portend overall health. It may be a temporary event brought on by the expanding capture by fewer survivors of a shrinking market share. Just sayin’..

    • TheWhistle says:

      Thanks for posting. Yes, it sounds very much like the treatment of workers in the industrial revolution, but contract work has been a staple for going on thirty years now in some countries, and is the wave of the future. Companies can no longer afford pensions and benifits. Contracting allows them to avoid this cost. People will have to learn to take care of themselves now and in the future. A different mindset has to be adopted by people who expect the same old same old.

      • William Jacques says:

        Great article. Yep.. human robots. Don’t fret, this will end soon as it all will be mechanized.

        • greg says:

          Amazon’s Darwinian culture comes from the top. Jeff Bezos, its chief executive, told Forbes magazine last year (when it named him “number one CEO in America”): “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove, we’ll settle for intense.

          Yup! Looking out for the small guy.

          Shades of 1984.

  26. Pete M. says:

    We have an odd habit in this country of placing blame on success. Whether it’s an individual or a massive corporation, many seem unwilling to accept that the success may simply be due to the fact that someone came up with a great idea and executed it. I do not believe that we need to sound the alarm when one business fails due to another business doing their job better. True leaders adapt to competition and adjust their business to continue to fill a need for their customers. If they cannot find a need to fill, then they do not need to be in business. Cold-hearted? Maybe. The reason why most of you are reading this blog on affordable, state of the art smart phones and tablets? Absolutely.

    In response to a previous post, I can say that Amazon has been a friend to this reader for many years. Such a good friend in fact, that it introduced me to one of my favorite authors AND provided me his ebooks at criminally low prices. Not only that, it allowed this favorite author of mine to sell his ebooks to an audience that would otherwise be virtually unreachable. Ok I will end the suspense; the author is Hugh Howey ;)

    If you love indie bookstores, then shop at indie bookstores, and encourage your friends to do the same. Try not to vilify companies such as Amazon and Walmart for simply executing a wildly successful business model, not to mention providing affordable products to thousands of people who may otherwise be unable to obtain them. And if you find that you still want revenge, come up with a better idea! I personally can’t wait to see what’s next.

    • William Jacques says:

      Vilification without reason is wrong. But the realization that leviathans cause species extinction in order to expand market share and maximize profits is the primary concern here. Perhaps Amazon will allow Goodread’s business model to continue without interference.. perhaps not. But the problem remains, that decision will now be Amazon’s, and it can all too easily be made exclusive of artistic and objective benefit..

      • Pete M. says:

        While I do understand your apprehension, I truly believe that the approach of a leviathan only causes the villagers to sharpen their weapons; and a few forge edges so sharp that they change the course of history. Some of our greatest innovations may never have occurred without the threat of extinction.

  27. TheWhistle says:

    So what are you saying here, the end justifies the means? I like the service amazon provides, but then I don’t work for them. I would like to see a similar article on the inner working of amazon in the States and on their latest decision to actually make the Canadian site similar to the American, hey they sell ebooks in Canada! However they are forcing loyal Canadian costomers to amazon.com to move on over to amazon.ca. I read the fine print and decided to stay with amazon.com becase they don’t offer all services in Canada, as of yet. However I have discover the only thing I can buy at amazon.com are ebooks. They now force me to use amazon.ca for everything else.

  28. David Golia says:

    Thanks for the great posting Hugh. Being the main author schlepper here in San Francisco I am seeing the knashing of teeth and moaning and groaning by people who can’t accept a changing world. Of course when authors stop going on book tours that are paid for by publishers I’ll be out of business. Come to think of it, it’s all my fault. I spent my life as a musician and now there are no record stores, I was a travel agent for awhile and we know what happend to that. So now that I spend my days hauling around authors on book tour I’m sure that will end soon.

  29. Janyaa says:

    As a fan of both Amazon and Goodreads, I can only see this as a natural partnership.

    I’m just hoping that the reviews and such remain separated, in the sense that if somebody leaves a comment on one, it doesn’t automatically get populated on the other.

    Until Amazon can get a handle on the fake reviews/ paid reviews, this will be a general concern of mine.

  30. I look at Amazon the same way I look at Apple (and in my part of the world, Nespresso). They have offered TREMENDOUS value for consumers, whilst cutting out all the inefficiencies we tolerated for so long. I mean, I find it freaking amazing that I can find out about a book (ahem, like Wool) and then within seconds I can start reading it.

    On top of that, I can have a writing career and actually publish (which I’ll be starting this year) without having to beg and plead.

    In short, Amazon has made ALL our lives far better, and that in less than two decades. Instead of grousing about taxes (everyone should pay less and we should all strive to lessen government intrusion into our lives), let’s champion Bezos for the hero he is. I for one thank him daily for everything he has made possible.

  31. Sam Barry says:

    Thanks for an interesting posting; you make some very good points. I have a question. You say: “Because of Amazon (largely Amazon), more people are making a living at writing than ever before.” Do you have any objective, unbiased statistics to back this statement up?
    -Sam Barry
    Author Enabler
    BookPage

    • I should have qualified as “writing fiction.” I’m sure the lost newspaper and magazine jobs more than make up for the difference.

      My statistics come from conversations with an e-book distributor who has privy to the number of people making $500 or more a month from their writing. Several years ago, I heard “several hundred” bandied about as the number of people who subsist solely on their fiction writing. I’d be surprised if it was even 300. Now, it is in the thousands.

  32. I’d like to focus on the part of your comments to do with people not reading at airports and not stopping into bookstores. That is something I am more worried about: people are reading less. As a teacher, I see especially that young people are reading less and this concerns me. Many or most habits are formed as children and youth. Probably less than 3 children in a class read for pleasure. For most, it’s video games and more video games with a little TV thrown in.

  33. Tom says:

    Thanks for posting Hugh. Sometimes I cant make up my mind as to whether Amazon are ‘The Borg’ from Star Trek or ‘Buy and Large Superstore’ from Wall.E but sure, they are promoting reading in way that even the wildest science fiction could not have predicted. But, while I understand that Amazon is also a business in way not envisioned by even the biggest publishers, my fear is that at some point Amazon decide to drop less profitable genres.

    • Will Power says:

      Even if they do stray away from the distribution of printed books of low-profit genres, I doubt very much they’d bother dropping them from digital distribution. The overhead costs of digital distribution are so much lower that it will more likely allow them to keep more low-profit items available for sale for longer.

      • Agreed. E-books require no shelf space and so there is no need to make room for next month’s next big thing by getting rid of the treasures readers haven’t yet discovered.

  34. Will Power says:

    Amazon has enabled me to purchase the books that I read. I’m not in North America, I cannot simply walk down the sidewalk and find a book to read in the English language. I have to rely on ebooks to get my reading done. The e-readers from the big publishing houses or other retailers bar me from purchasing books from their proprietary on-line stores by blocking sales to IP addresses that do not place the log-in in North America (or Australia). Amazon allows me to purchase any book I want from anywhere I want. Amazon alone has enabled me to continue with my reading addiction. The big publishers are the ones who are dictating the inflated prices of ebooks on sale today, inflated to help subsidize the overhead costs of printing books on paper. Shame on them, not Amazon.

  35. WM Jacques says:

    Very good thread. But, believe me, some indie bookstores may have found a “sustainable” level.. but, that’s it. The demise of Borders (and perhaps soon B&N) will provide temporary injection of market share and illusion of health… but indie bookstores that don’t have a restaurant component or some other ancillary business attached, for most part, are soon to be DOA.

  36. You and Konrath hold almost, nearly, virtually, just about the same views. As do I.
    I blogged about Goodreads Amazon – roughly, nearly, almost the same views. Seemed to light a fire. 127 comments.
    Oh, and Tweeting out your dance video was a pleasure by the way.
    Jonathan

  37. My correct email this time…
    Jonathan

  38. Geri says:

    This was an important point to me and below is justifications for just those thoughts!

    “Most of the people in the cities I visited strolled by bookstores without glancing inside. Most of the people in the airports weren’t reading. We are fighting amongst ourselves while the real battle is ignored.”
    Thursday, we got a snootful of that “fighting amongst ourselves” he’s talking about, and a close look at how ragged the collective nerves of publishing have become. The spectacle of people, many of whom know better, succumbing to such hyperbole in a new “crisis!” is far removed from what’s at the heart of this whole endeavor: literature.

    From The Atlantic Monthly – http://bit.ly/14XonTk
    “There’s a more fundamental issue at play here, too. Today, the publishing industry survives on super fans — book worms who read far more than most Americans, and who tell their friends what to read as well. By picking up Goodreads, Amazon gets to tap into those super fans. Simple.
    The United States is not, sadly, a country of lit buffs. In 2008, a little more than half of all American adults reported reading a book that was not required for work or school* during the past year, according to the National Endowment of the Arts. And as shown in the graph below, which like the other charts in this piece come courtesy of the industry researchers at Codex Group, and updates the sample data to match the 2010 Census, just 19 percent read a dozen or more titles.
    Or, to put it another way, according to Codex just 19 percent of Americans do 79 percent of all our (non-required) book reading!

  39. [...] my mom is marrying that cool dude next door that I’ve been palling around with”. While Howey predicted “a lot of hand-wringing over the acquisition”, he said there were “so many ways [...]

  40. […] So the news that Amazon have brought Goodreads is dominating discussions on many writing forums I lurk on, but for me my views are best summed up by Hugh Howey in his blog post on his site. […]

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