Well, if you have any interest in books, you’ve probably heard the news of Amazon acquiring Goodreads. We have to say, we like both sites…separately.
Goodreads is like getting together with a bunch of friends to exchange books. You can see what everyone is reading; get their opinion on which books they liked and which they didn’t like, and why; and post your own info. Getting recommendations on new books is a plus. And for authors, there are loads of opportunities to get to know your readers, as well as conduct promotional campaigns such as giveaways and contests to gain new fans. Reviews on your books are from real people with whom you can interact. As a social site for book lovers, it’s great.
Amazon is an entirely different character, a giant online retailer known for its variety and low prices. Amazon is terrific for authors in general, and indie authors in particular, in providing a popular and easy-to-use site for buying books. The popularity of its Kindle e-reader and the ease of publishing through its Kindle Direct Publishing program provide huge exposure to the reading public. In fact, we had such a good month in January with Kindle sales of both our independently and traditionally published books that the royalties will pay for a significant portion (if not all) of our travel expenses to conventions this summer. Kindle/Amazon ebook sales are our highest earners.
That said, we don’t like the thought of a single company monopolizing sales of anything, books included. That’s why we also sell both paperbacks and ebooks through Barnes & Noble (Nook reader), and ebooks through Kobo (Kobo reader). Actually, we had just finished submitting our ebooks to Kobo when this Amazon/Goodreads news came out. One reason we were dismayed by the news is that, at the present time, you can link your books on Kobo with their reviews on Goodreads. This is a terrific way to hit the ground running in a new market, because getting reviews is a painstaking process, and we’ve already got lots of good reviews on Goodreads. So, one of our concerns with this merger is that all our nice Goodreads reviews on Kobo will go away. Whether we like it or not, good reviews pull in new readers, increasing royalties, and enabling us to keep plugging away on new books. Every little bit helps! But from Amazon’s point of view, Goodreads reviews on Kobo may cut into their market. We don’t think that’s really true, because Kobo seems to cover markets (such as Australia) where Amazon doesn’t have as large a presence as they do in the U.S., U.K., etc.
What this merger means for authors depends on which book distributors you use, what kind of reviews you have and where, and exactly how chummy Amazon and Goodreads become with regard to sharing data, reviews, etc. Otis Chandler, CEO and co-founder of Goodreads, suggested in his announcement that our favorite literary website will maintain its individuality:
Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture.
We look forward to seeing how this merger shakes out. But whatever happens, just keep reading!