It will come as no surprise that the book community on Twitter responded vociferously to the acquisition of social reading site Goodreads by Amazon.com, offering sober analysis though more often an outpouring of mordant, gloomy wit about the future of Goodreads and the state of literary culture in general. On the Goodreads’ site, an initial burst of optimistic comments quickly turned sour, with many members lamenting the sale, bashing Amazon and expressing worries for the future of the site as an independent platform for fan reviews and book chat.
Among the tweets offering relatively sober analysis and perspective:
@Kalenski: So far it seems this will be best for Otis [Chandler]. Not sure who else. But that's just initial, gut reaction
@JuliettaLionetti: BREAKING: Amazon to Acquire GoodReads. All the customer info in the same hands!
@DonnLinn: Not to sound all crass and commercial, but the reason you do a startup these days is to get acquired.
@jchristie:The biggest surprise about this news is that people are surprised about this news. People forget that these businesses are...
@librarythingtim: In seriousness, Goodreads can give Kindle a real social dimension. I wonder why they didn't just do it themselves, but it will.
@jane_I: Just want to say I predicted this last year and again this year.
@DBerthiaume: Oh Hugh Howey [Howey is quoted in the press release announcing the deal]. This is the sound of every indie canceling their order
But Twitter is as much about snark as it is about thoughfut analysis, and the snarktwits were out in force. Among the tarter tweets were these:
@samatlounge: Congrats @otown on Amazon deal. You've made publishers weep, but who can blame you? #EndGame.
@JasonPinter: Immidate thought on Amazon acquiring Goodreads: Bookish will be dead imminently, and B&N just broke into a cold sweat.
@okgirl96: I don't view Amazon's acquisition of Goodreads as a positive. Inevitable, yes.
And the snark wasn’t aimed just at Amazon, Goodreads (and the Chandlers) took its share of lumps from the Twitterverse as well.
@kurtisscaletta: Amazon/Goodreads news is great for authors, who can now find all their nasty anonymous reviews in one convenient place.
@maxfenton: Hating Goodreads just got a little bit better
And then there are the outright comic broadsides meant strictly for laughs:
@BorgBezos: All your buy buttons are now belong to us.
@FakeEditor: Amazon just bought Goodreads. And in other news, Barnes & Noble didn't.
@rokeandbookish: Amazon...really I'm flattered that you want to be all up in every part of my business on the interwebz but its just getting ex bf stalkerish
@faitherinhicks: Amazon bought Goodreads? ... that's gross. :(
@jchristie: Good thing we have Bookish, right guys? ...guys?
At the same time, over on the Goodreads' blog, comments in response to Goodreads' founders Otis and Elizabeth Chander’s statement on the acquisition, started out fairly optimistic (“this is a great idea!”; “Cool”), offering suggestions (“I would love to the intregration of reviews of both sites”) before taking a turn toward practical concerns (“I do hope that the site continues to run independently, as promised,”). As the comments continue, the criticism and apprehension about the acquisition grows.
Before long members begin to bring up Amazon’s stewardship of Shelfari, a social reading and book talk site acquired by Amazon in 2008—and not in a good way.
“Bye Bye Shelfari . . . Hello Goodreads!!,” “Amazon already owns and neglects Shelfari,” and "I use to use Shelfari but when Amazon took it over I came to your site.”
Goodreads members wanted to know whether reviews will be posted on both sites, whether Amazon owned their reviews, whether authors can rate books, whether the Kobo content feed will continue, whether Amazon will track their reading habits and whether Goodreads content will be integrated into the various Kindle devices and more. Some want to know if they will have to pay now that the site is owned by Amazon while some members asked if they could pay to prevent Amazon from tracking their presence on the site.
And yes, more than a few commenters on Goodreads say they wanted out, and planned to close their accounts, although it is always unclear how many people actually plan to carry out the threat. Perhaps the best comment on threats by Goodreads members to close down their accounts in the wake of Amazon’s acquisition was made on twitter by @ColleenLinday.
@ColleenLindsay: Prediction: All the same people who threaten to quit Facebook will threaten to quit Goodreads. 1.6% of these people will follow through.