OR IS IT ACTUALLY THE END OF THE WORLD?!!! That’s what some reading folk seemed to think this week after Amazon (aka, that megalomaniacal company that’s destroying everything we hold dear, except for our preeecccious Kindles) announced that it will purchase Goodreads. After the initial announcement on Thursday, the internet was rife with opinion, mostly of the negative variety. Shelf Awareness had a nice round up of some of the initial reactions. Authors Guild President Scott Turow chimed in, calling the acquisition (paraphrased) yet another step in Amazon’s journey toward becoming an “internet monopoly.” Library Thing founder Tim Spalding felt very optimistic about the new partnership…although not for either Goodreads or Amazon:
“With Amazon in the drivers' seat, you can bet that B&N, Kobo and Indies are going to drop and be dropped by Goodreads like a hot potato. If any non-Amazon "buy" buttons remain, they're going to be buried deep. And B&N is hardly going to encourage people to use Goodreads now that every item of data Goodreads get goes to build Amazon and the Kindle features Goodreads is promising.
In short, we gained a lot of friends today.”
But can any other site match Goodreads for ease of use and that elusive social component (which I really haven’t seen done well anywhere else)? Mediabistro lists 5 Alternatives To Goodreads, which may be possible contenders for the throne. (And here’s a sixth one that I don’t know much about but have seen people mention…on Goodreads, haha.) LibraryThing is offering a free one-year subscription to people thinking of defecting through the end of today.
I think that this article, published last week at Forbes magazine hits the nail on the head: the current challenge for readers isn’t book discoverability; it’s the sheer, crazy number of books we all have access to at any given moment. We are all able to easily discover thousands of books, but how do we decide what to read? The one disagreement I have with the article relates to this passage:
“Reviews are also unreliable because they depend on the reviewer having the same taste as you. I’ve read many a book that received five star review after five star review, and still managed to be rubbish, and I doubt I’m alone in that.”
There was one small positive step for libraries last week, as Penguin announced that it will now allow libraries access to all Penguin ebook titles as they are released. Previously, libraries were forced to wait six months following the print release to have access to Penguin ebooks. The article linked above (from American Libraries Magazine) also predicts more changes in the future as the Penguin/Random House merger goes through.
The California Department of Education drew criticism this week when it published a revised edition of its recommended reading list for grades K-12, including several books that feature LGBTQ themes and issues. It is worth noting that the California Dept. of Ed has included at least some books with similar themes FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS and also that none of these books are required reading for any child – they are simply recommended. And yet, we still get comments like this one (from radio personality Sandy Rios):
“"The reading lists are very overtly propagating a point of view that is at odds with most American parents. Leftist educators are advocates of everything from socialism to sexual anarchy. It's very base; it's raping the innocence of our children. "
- Marjane Satrapi responds to the recent hubbub surrounding The Chicago School Board's removal of her book Persepolis from the seventh grade curriculum in this recorded interview.
- Apparently Jane Goodall's new book has even more error and plagiarism than originally thought. Publication has been indefinitely postponed.
- Fifteen year old human rights activist Malala Yousafzai will publish a memoir, after being shot in the face last year and going through a long recovery in England.
- Flavorwire has a great photo gallery of famous authors as teenagers (helloooo Hemingway).
- And finally, a funny point/counterpoint: first check out this list of authors who actually liked the film adaptations of their books, from The Atlantic and then watch the HILARIOUS video below from Axis of Awesome. (They capture the rage I feel for film adaptations so well....)