After an exchange on Twitter with the author about her amusing (and justified) response to the London Review of Books concerning her feelings about thAfter an exchange on Twitter with the author about her amusing (and justified) response to the London Review of Books concerning her feelings about their shameful gender inequity stance (read it at Salon here), she offered to send me a copy of the ebook....more
So, to my friends and followers, if you don't already know about it, please educate yourself on what has been going on behind the scenes here at Amazon-Goodreads (A-GR). Read this free ebook, which is an excellent compilation by some of the GR community of readers who have been censored. Read the fairly balanced Salon article on the subject. Google it. Then make your own decision.
I'm not one of the in-crowd on Goodreads, not one of the 21 Goodreaders that got shut down, not a recipient of the "we've deleted your review" emails, not one of the Forbes 25. But I have been here awhile (since December '08), and I do pay attention to what's going on here (I'm an active reviewer, group participant, & volunteer librarian), and what's going on here ain't good.
I've weighed in on most of the issues that have ruffled feathers (and worse) here in the past 5+ years, and watched as GR staff ignored member feedback on all the changes. Some were merely stylistic differences of opinion (eg., implementation of the UGB); some were much more serious (authors and agents equating negative reviews with bullying), but what each issue had in common was GR's lack of responsiveness to the concerns of their most invested members.
But, as long as GR remained a site dedicated to readers, I felt that the business decisions made by management were, if not choices I would have made if in their shoes, still within the realm of what I could personally support; GR was a business that I could still put my trust in, albeit with reservations.
Then last spring GR announced the sale of the business to Amazon. This was after all the insanity of the scramble to reconstruct the database (by me and other volunteer editors) in the wake of Amazon denying access to their API. I was gobsmacked by the sale announcement.
I've been a vocal critic, both on and off GR, of Amazon and their scorched-earth business practices. And I believe in voting with my dollars, so I won't give Amazon my money, which I spend to support business who espouse values similar to my own, businesses both on and offline.
That left me in a bind even before the current controversy over censorship of reviews came up. As a reader, and a consumer, I was faced with a choice last spring: continue on as an active GR member, effectively increasing Amazon's profits by donating my free labor as a volunteer librarian and adding my data to their sales machine, or leave, hopefully for greener pastures. But let's face it: last spring when this went down, there were no greener pastures; there wasn't even a barren wasteland alternative to turn to, since LibraryThing has been sucked up by Amazon as well.
So what did I do? I became paralyzed. I didn't leave, but in staying I just...stopped. Stopped posting reviews, stopped entering ARC giveaways, and stopped volunteering my time, effort, & expertise as a GR librarian. I stopped feeding my data to the Amazon-Goodreads (A-GR) cash cow. Because I understood that GR had gone from being a site for readers, to a site for consumers; I was no longer a community member, but had become a commodity.
I believed this was, at least in the short term, a reasonable solution to my problem. Not ideal, but tenable. I would just use A-GR, without allowing A-GR to use me. So over the course of my hiatus, I rarely checked in, rarely posted, & never followed the A-GR scandal news. As a result, I completely missed the bullshit concerning review deletion that went down last fall. In my absence, A-GR went from a place where I tentatively believed that a truce could be maintained between the sometimes opposing forces of community values and business values, to a place where profit motive trumps EVERYTHING.
Now I find that authors are buying positive reviews; that reviewers posting negative reviews are being removed; and that vague rules about what constitutes a review in the first place are being systematically implemented as a tool for suppressing honest dialogue. 'Off-topic' my ass; A-GR just wants to "sanitize" this site (their policy for group moderators on Amazon), to enforce an artificially "appropriate tone" (read: palatable to the income generators, aka authors), here, just like they do on Amazon.
Don't be fooled: in buying Goodreads, Amazon bought the right to sell to you, as a captive audience. Every extra click you make in order to get to your content is another opportunity to show you an advertisement. Every listopia vote you cast here is a datapoint mined by Amazon in order to better exploit the possibility of selling you something. Every book you shelve gives Amazon another shot at niche-marketing to you. And do you think that the privacy of your reading habits, once considered sacrosanct by librarians and booksellers everywhere, means anything to A-GR?
I'm not anti-capitalism; I get that trying to sell me things is the way that all social networking sites work. The difference is, there's no conflict of interest on those sites like there is here on A-GR. This site is built on user-generated content; here, as a user-member, I am both the product and the consumer of the product. Amazon bought our reviews so they could sell us the products we are reviewing. That is the crux of the problem.
But I don't want to be part of that anymore. In the same way that I do NOT buy books from Amazon, but instead buy them from independent booksellers (which are becoming harder and harder to find, I might add, as Amazon gobbles them up), in that way I am making the sad and difficult choice to stop supporting A-GR as my book site of choice. My plan is to begin migrating my data off of A-GR to a new, smaller, independent A-GR competitor, Booklikes. As always, there is a cost to standing up for what I believe in. The cost of buying my new books from an indie seller is buying fewer of them, because they cost about twice as much as they would if I bought them from Amazon. The cost of supporting an indie book site instead of A-GR is that I will lose some of my community, my friends, my history here. And let's face it, change is hard. I don't know my way around Booklikes, and I don't know if all the features I've come to love about Goodreads (NOT A-GR) will be there.
But at least, for now anyway, I'll be welcomed on Booklikes as a reader. I won't be viewed as a commodity, or a consumer, or as someone to be exploited, sanitized, and corralled to keep me from straying 'off-topic'.
Because, really, isn't the stuff that is off-topic the most interesting bit?...more
What is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elitWhat is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elite/Eloi as our contemporary American 1%ers, living it up on the backs of the impoverished East-End working-class/Morlacks, our 99%? Hmmm? Are you the diner, or the eaten? ...more
Although it might go on a tad longer than necessary to make its point(s), and the ending might be a skoche on this side of saccharine, I thoroughly enAlthough it might go on a tad longer than necessary to make its point(s), and the ending might be a skoche on this side of saccharine, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a fin de siècle power family undergoing the transformation from the 1% to the 99%. Everything changes, everything stays the same....more
Even though the ending was both an easily-cracked code and somewhat untenable, the sheer momentum of the story, told in PKD's usual inimical style, maEven though the ending was both an easily-cracked code and somewhat untenable, the sheer momentum of the story, told in PKD's usual inimical style, made for a very entertaining read....more
I am not a fan of the breed of science fiction that simply substitutes an extra-terrestrial setting for an earthly one and drops in a bunch of manufacI am not a fan of the breed of science fiction that simply substitutes an extra-terrestrial setting for an earthly one and drops in a bunch of manufactured alien words, while telling a prosaic and hackneyed story. This is that kind of sci-fi....more