In case you haven’t heard the news yet, we just inched a little closer to the Apocalypse.
Even though you’re probably busy trying not to choke on that nugget of information, we must press on. There is little to no good that can come from this. Which is no doubt why it happened.
Ever shrinking markets are a danger to everyone. Long gone are the days of governments and politicians fostering competition in order to stimulate both economies and production. Consumer choice spreads the wealth, allowing growth and diversity, forcing companies to fight to maintain their marketshare by improving their products. Monopolies erase all of this; when there’s no where else to go, companies can do whatever they want, usually with government (as in taxpayer) subsidizing.
Goodreads’ main appeal was in being a healthy alternative to Amazon, B&N, etc. Especially after Amazon’s notorious and broadly sweeping changes in it’s reviewing polices- without bothering to even inform anyone of the changes- created an uproar and strengthened GR’s position in the market as a place for unbiased and honest reviews. Despite the usual protests to the contrary, this will no doubt change and not for the better. Why else would a company acquire its chief competitor if not to control it’s output?
So where does this leave us? In light of the growing and as yet unanswered concerns about this- most of all WHY it happened in the first place!- the answer lies all around us.
Independent Book Blogs and Bloggers.
Unlike the days of old, monopolies can inadvertently aid other voices being heard instead of silencing them. The blessing and curse of modern technology and internet access is that anyone can do “IT”. If you’ve got a computer and a decent photo editing program, you’re well on your way. Already notable sites such as Cuddlebuggery, Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books will increase their profiles and smaller sites will also ride the crest of the wave of readers seeking untainted opinions. Contrary to what conglomerates and publishers try to tell us, readers ain’t dumb (otherwise they wouldn’t read so much). Losing the privilege of unsolicited, unmoderated reviews to help us make buying choices is akin to not disclosing which carton of milk has the Bovine Growth Hormones in it. What used to be a right and a privilege has become an afterthought of the market.
- Goodreads Goes Up in Flames. Some Call It Arson.
There’s also one other potential bonus. Now that Goodreads has been co-opted, perhaps it’s time for something else to arise in it’s place- like a consortium or collective… or something. AOL got knocked out by MySpace, which got steamrolled by Facebook. For all it’s good points, GR has been viewed by many as straying far from it’s original purpose. Cries of trolling and bullying echo across the web, and though I think there largely overrated and mainly consist of Author Butthurt, it may be an omen for putting Goodreads to rest. Which, as I’m certain will be shown in the months to come, may not be a bad idea. And like a certain holiday celebrating a return to life, the Book Reading/Reviewing Community may need to shoulder the burden itself to restore everyone’s faith in it. With attitude.