So Amazon has bought the book-lovers’ cataloguing and social site, Goodreads. I’ve been digesting this news since it was announced at the end of last week. My first reaction was very negative, and I had already pretty much decided that I would delete my Goodreads account and concentrate only on LibraryThing, where I also have been cataloguing my books over the years (and doing occasional reviews through their “Early Reviewer” program).
Two ideas have come to the fore as to why I’m dumping Goodreads:
- I intensely dislike monopolies or companies that try to become monopolies.
- The title of this Salon article: Amazon buys Goodreads: We’re all just data now.
There are several Internet companies trying to become monopolies: Facebook, Google, and Amazon are some of the biggies. I do deal with all of them, but I do what I can not to become owned by them. And there are the meatspace/Internet combos too: Apple and Microsoft. And I think Yahoo is making a last-ditch effort to play with the big boys too. I already loathed it when the great photo site, Flickr, sold out to Yahoo, and I think that I was justified. I hate to think of what moves they’re going to make as they try to jump on the “We own our users’ lives” bandwagon.
Part of my point is that in my own dealings, I don’t concentrate my whole life in any one place, and I do whatever I can to try to prevent any of those companies from taking over my whole life. For instance, I don’t register at sites which won’t let me register with an email address but insist I link to my Facebook account. Buh-bye — you guys just don’t get my business. I also may have consolidated several Google accounts in one place — but I still maintain two other accounts with all their own versions of G+, Picasa, YouTube, blah blah blah. I am not going to do absolutely everything in one place and have everything associated with one name all the time.
But apart from all that — I will not pile up a bunch of unpaid labour so that a monster-sized corporation can make even bigger piles of bucks off of my work. I do not post book reviews and that sort of thing to help mega-corp make piles of money. They may like to be the recipients of that sort of charity, but I refuse to be the donor. I post book (and other) reviews for my own entertainment and also because they might help someone else make up his/her own mind. (And when I want to post a review on Amazon, I do so. If I haven’t posted a review there, they don’t get to steal it from somewhere else and use it.) And LibraryThing respects people’s privacy a lot more and does not concentrate primarily on using other people’s work to enrich itself. (This article, Culture Shock: when Goodreads and LibraryThing collide, discusses some of the differences between LibraryThing and Goodreads, and I think it explains why I’ve always subconsciously tended to lean more toward LT from the beginning.)
I also like cataloguing my books for insurance purposes. I already know of a few people who had their personal book lists catalogued on LibraryThing and had those lists accepted for replacement purposes by insurance companies.
I won’t “go gently into that good night” where corporations simply assume we human beings are property that they can buy or sell — or for that matter, that we are money wallets that they can simply advertise at so they can make billions siphoning money out of our pockets and into theirs, while we can barely afford to buy a new book now and then. (And if you think the game is already lost, and we can’t fight the big corporations, and the only choice we have left is to decide whose property we are — you need to read some history books.)
So no, Goodreads. I’m slowly deleting my books from your site (after I check that they’re already properly recorded at LibraryThing). Soon, all Amazon will have of me there is…nothing. An empty account. Enjoy the riches.