We've known for a long time that Amazon - er, um - SPECTRE is branching into other venues.
Did you know that SPECTRE got the CIA contract to construct cloud system? Yep. Let your conspiracy theories run rampant for a moment. Go ahead - we'll wait.
But that's not all they're up to.
SPECTRE buying Goodreads is another development to roil your stomach. It certainly has ours.
Back in Feb 2008, they took control of Shelfari. Remember them? It was like Goodreads in that it's a social network for readers. You don’t remember them either? It is still active but we never hear about it. Goodreads has been one of the online places – perhaps the most prominent – that allowed readers to find objective reviews. After all, as independent bookshops have been killed off around the country, readers still need some way to find new books worth reading. There’s a well documented history of monkeybusiness with Amazon’s (sorry, SPECTRE) reviews. Goodreads has become a trusted alternative, and now, within a couple of months, they’ll cease to be an independent voice and will part of SPECTRE. Will they go the way of Shelfari in a few years?
Here's a joint interview with a representative from SPECTRE and Goodreads on their view of the merger and future plans.
Here’s a quote that talks about another facet of the deal:
“Privacy of reader information is viewed as a sacred trust by booksellers and librarians.... No librarian or bookseller wants to give the government or anyone else access to your private information. It's in our DNA. We're a community center and a community resource. You want to be able to come in and talk to us about books. You don't want us to gossip about your reading habits to the next guy who comes in, whether that guy is your neighbor or from the FBI. We don't do it. We won't do it.
"When we remember what you like, it's in service of a personal relationship. It's not 'data' to 'exploit.' This is a profession with professional standards.... At your next book club meeting, picture me sitting quietly in the corner, taking notes on your preferences. Imagine the next day you get an e-mail from me trying to sell you a new grill--or a book--or accessories for your Glock. That's the Amazon/Goodreads deal. It's appalling.... That's not the world we want to live in. That's the world we're fighting against, every day we open our bookshops and libraries to the public. Join us. You are not data."
That was from Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH, in their letter to their customers.
Our stand regarding SPECTRE is old news by now, so you've probably been waiting for us to blow up all over this.
We're not resigned, and we're not accepting it, but we're also not howling about it. What's the point? What we have done is to pull all our reviews from Goodreads. We don't want SPECTRE to benefit from our work. We review for our customers, to let you know about good books we've read. We sincerely hope you'll buy them from us. That way, we all win.
But we won't help SPECTRE, so we're pulling our reviews. They're all available on our website, and we're creating a new Tumblr blog (to go along with the other two we have) dedicated to nothing but our reviews, and we'll put our past reviews up there, so you'll always be able to find them if you like. But we can't continue supporting Goodreads, and we don't see anything out there with nearly their clout. Yet.
If you find something that is independent and reliable and trusted, please do let us know!