Start of a catfight? Amazon vs. Goodreads

Towards the end of January Goodreads made a significant move away from Amazon.  In several of my posts I’ve highlighted how Goodreads is a good source of trusted reviews and a great place for readers to connect.  But now there’s the added worry that if you only publish your books through Amazon (i.e. KDP or Createspace) your books may not be automatically available on Goodreads.

Why should you care?  User reviews (and by this I mean unsolicited reviews from people who have chosen to read your book) are the best source of ‘free advertising’.  If your book isn’t available on ‘said site’ to review, however, you’ve lost this opportunity.  It’s one thing to review a book you’ve just read, another to enter all the required information for it beforehand.  I’ve already experienced this with one KDP published book, which meant that the review I’d intended to leave got lost in the wind.

What can you do?  If your books are published elsewhere you probably don’t have to worry.  But if not, make sure to upload your book details so that the option to review is there.  Goodreads may have allowed users to ‘rescue’ books as data was being transferred over towards the end of January, but any books published after this deadline, could get left out.

What happened? Before February 2012, Goodreads used data supplied by Amazon to keep book titles, cover art etc… up to date.  This arrangement worked well for a time, but as with most things there was a catch and they eventually cited ‘many restictions’ as their reason for moving away from this model.  So, the source of metadata was switched over to a new company and any books that were not covered by this new source were tagged as requiring ‘rescue’.

So, what was the catch?

1) Amazon had to be the first link to purchase the book.  This is fair if they hold the required data and want to act as the main retailer.

2) There were further restrictions on, for example, use of this data on mobiles and handheld devices.  This is restrictive in that it limits how Goodreads can develop mobile apps.

3) Not so much a catch, but a potential catalyst: Amazon also manages the book review site Shelfari.  Perhaps they will in the future try to promote use of this service, which would of course involve interfering with ‘the competition’.

4) On the 27th January, it also became clear that titles published through KDP and Createspace would not be automatically fed to Goodreads:

Late this afternoon, we received word from Amazon that we will not get a feed of book information for Kindle and CreateSpace books. Previously, we’d been told that we would get a feed and that’s what we’ve been communicating to Librarians and authors. What this means is that these books will now need to be rescued. If they are not, the reviews and ratings will be merged into other editions of the same book, if we have other editions. If no other editions of the book exist, the ratings and reviews will move to a blank book record with no author or title until we can find a new, alternate source of data for those books. We apologize for the late notice, but as I said, we just got the news late this afternoon. If we could have given you more notice, we absolutely would have.

We have just opened up the rescue books page to all users, and later tonight (Friday) or early tomorrow (Saturday), we will be sending an email to all authors with a book at risk, as well as to all users with books at risk. We are continuing to import books from WorldCat and several other sources, which will help a bit.

Thank you for all your efforts in helping us with this transition. We’ll continue to keep you updated and please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have additional questions.”

Again, this is an example of why the ‘monopolised market’ can be damaging.  If one retailer holds too much sway they can start to dictate the terms for everyone else to follow.  Do you, as an author or reader want a company that makes money off of selling books also have free reign on promoting them?

See Also:

When the credibility of book reviews comes into question

The path to e-book domination

About indie e-books is aimed at providing a common platform for indie writers and publishers to show-case their work. The content is kept limited to one (free) short story per author to give the reader an idea of the writing style and talent involved and to help forward them on to more substantial work.
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1 Response to Start of a catfight? Amazon vs. Goodreads

  1. Cat says:

    Great article. I’ve had a couple of my boos too that needed rescuing. Fortunately, the people (mostly volunteers) at Goodreads respond really fast to rescue requests.

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