HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing
Got My Mojo Shrinking

Got My Mojo Shrinking

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Posted in: willaful



About two weeks ago, GoodReads announced they had been swallowed bought by Amazon, and I’ve haven’t written anything worth calling a review since. Even an exceptionally good book (Big Boy by Ruthie Knox) just got a short paragraph out of me. I’ve dried up.

My feelings are confused, not particularly logical, and definitely hypocritical. I buy stuff from Amazon, more than I want to, because it’s so freakin’ convenient and their customer service is so good. I don’t usually buy ebooks from them, because I prefer to support the standard epub format, but I’ll give in to a good sale. I’ve even left the occasional review.

But — and it’s a big but — I use a different name there, and I don’t usually review books. And I couldn’t even tell you why, exactly, except that I don’t like their reviewing culture, and I don’t like their untrustworthy reviews, and I just don’t want to be a part of it.

And now I’m a part of it whether I like it or not. Unless I give up all the benefits GoodReads has brought into my life.

I’m just depressed as hell, and who can write reviews when they’re depressed? I can’t even get up the energy to make corrections on GoodReads anymore. So there are typos and spelling errors, who cares… it’s not my home anymore, I don’t need to keep it tidy. (I suspect I’m not the only person feeling this way, since I seem to see more errors than I used to. And though only one of my friends has officially left the site, my updates feed has slowed down, too.)

GoodReads had a unique spirit. People could say what they wanted to say, rate how they wanted to rate. It was all about the users and how they wanted to use the site. That’s spirit has been eroding for quite a while now, and there’s little doubt it will erode further.

But I can’t say this is about just one thing. It’s partially rage that unpaid librarians did so much work for nothing. It’s partially fear of change. It’s partially not wanting words that I’ve poured my heart and soul into to be out there for Amazon to use as they will in their quest for world domination.  I recognize that I get something from GoodReads in return for the content I provide, and that it should be a fair exchange. But it doesn’t feel like a fair exchange any more.

Really, there’s no point in even trying to find the right words, the right reason. I just don’t have it in me to review books right now. And maybe it’ll come back, and maybe it won’t.


  • I hear you. I shop at Amazon a lot, primarily because their customer service is second to none, but I don’t have a good feeling about this. I changed my user name and email contact so that they’re different from my Amazon account. Hoping that will throw them off the track, if they’re even on the track, if it’s not already too late.

    I won’t be posting another review there until I see which way the cat is going to jump.

    This, too, will sort itself out in time, but it comes at a time when my interest was flagging already due to a number of reasons, and it seemed like one. more. blow.


  • I’ve never used Goodreads, so I can’t really comment on this feeling. Maybe I’m just a cynical old bitch, but I assume that anything that’s good will be eaten up by something that’s not nearly as good. So my fave yogurt brand, Stonyfield Farms went the way of Dannon. Amazon bought Zappos. I haven’t had any problems, but you never know. I’m just waiting for Bank of America to eat my bank. It sucks big hairy ones, but there’s fuck all we can do about it.


  • Sally
    April 8
    10:47 pm

    I totally share your feelings about the takeover of GoodReads by Amazon.

    It feels to me like a betrayal that they sold it.

    The world seems to be gradually becoming a smaller and smaller place with only big corporations owning everything.

    Amazon has done a lot of good for online bookselling. But by the same token they are very monopolistically minded.

    The whole KDP Select program on Kindle is designed to totally stop competition.

    Personally I think a similar set of thoughts is behind the purchase of GoodReads.

    It is like Wikipedia being sold to Encyclopaedia Britannica, and that somehow being a good thing!



  • It may be–but I am not holding my breath–that there’s little change at GoodReads, but these acquisitions make it harder to keep private/non-commercial stuff separate from what is, essentially, a marketing move.

    The reviews at amazon are not there to help other customers, their existence is designed to get people to look at products advertised there and to sell them–perhaps not necessarily that individual item with the million 0 starts, but all the similar ones that pop up as ‘recommended to you’ right under it.


  • I’m sad. I liked your mojo. I’ve heard such contradictory predictions of what this will mean for Goodreads and for online reviewer culture in general. Many have said that Amazon was just buying the reviews because, like you, many were not trusting the reviews on their site. I hope that’s the case and not more insidious than that. One can never know, I suppose. We can hope for the next new thing I suppose or just hope that Amazon will leave GR the heck alone. I’m trying to be optimistic but if many of the “old guard” fall away, it will change the place drastically.


  • @Sally: Yes, I think you put your finger on it there. Many things Amazon does are great… but they’re still a business and I still don’t want them to have a monopoly.


  • @Bren: Thanks Bren. I hope it will come back… or maybe I don’t. I can always review here, of course, but there isn’t as much feedback or interaction. And it’s also more work.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment