Feedly Follow-up and Goodreads

Aaarrghhh. First Google Reader disappearing, now the Amazon/Goodreads deal.  Talk about unsettling news.

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feedly-logo1On the positive side, I have now settled into using Feedly and *whispers* it may even be better than Google Reader.  Apart from my Chrome browser, I’ve installed it on my (Android) phone and Kindle Fire, and the apps are working fine.  The complaints I had about the left navigation pane appear to have been mostly addressed by their latest updates and the user interface has definitely improved.  As I said previously, I really like that I can customise the view per subscription and the magazine view is proving to be an excellent way to scan through frequently updated feeds.  Finally, not that I’m superficial or anything, but it’s a lot prettier than Reader…

A couple of caveats: Feedly is still using the Google Reader backend, and while they appear to be prepared to switch over to their new Normandy backend, I suspect there may be some teething problems.  I have also logged on to The Old Reader (yes, my subscriptions were finally uploaded) to check out the interface, and while I haven’t spent a lot of time using it, I suspect if you’re looking for a like-for-like replacement, you may like The Old Reader better than Feedly.  It also has the bonus of not requiring a browser extension, though Feedly says that’s on their list of things to address.

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And then the big news of this week – Amazon buying Goodreads.

My initial reaction was “Noooooo…”, but then I wondered why.  I’m not anti-Amazon – heck, the bulk of my ebook purchases are probably from Amazon, I have three Kindles (I know), I use the Amazon wishlist feature to track price drops… Back in the (pre-ebooks) day, Amazon was the only way I managed to get my hands on backlist books – I think if I were ever to add up how much of my money has ended up at Amazon, it would be around the five digits mark (ummm… better not to think about that too much).

I think it’s the common reaction to a big corporate taking over what’s seen as a community corner of the online book-ish world.  However, let’s face it: Goodreads weren’t in this business purely out of the goodness of their hearts – they were (hopefully) making money as well, and I’m guessing Amazon made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  You don’t get something for nothing, and I viewed Goodreads as having access to my data (reviews, book lists etc) as a reasonable trade-off for the services I received from them: a way of organising my books, following what other people were reading, and trading book recommendations.

While I don’t necessarily like the idea of another company having access to that data, I’m not sure if it’s that different from Goodreads being able to mine that dataset (or say, Google having access to my internet browsing habits).  I have to say that I’m not quite sure how I feel about my reviews potentially appearing on Amazon.  Which is funny, because I know Goodreads reviews appear at other online book retailers, e.g. Kobo and BooksOnBoard – I obviously don’t have an issue with that but Amazon feels so public.  Is that just me?  We’ll see – I don’t think I’ve seen any statement yet on whether that would definitely happen (though it would make sense if I were an Amazon bod).

But as long as my Amazon account remains unlinked to my Goodreads one (and I use different email addresses so I would be really %^!&*’d off if that happened), I think this change in ownership by itself is not going to make me close my Goodreads account.  It remains to be seen if this actually has an impact on the Goodreads end-user experience – I hope not, but I think we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Thoughts, anyone?

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16 thoughts on “Feedly Follow-up and Goodreads

  1. My problem is that Amazon will remove reviews arbitrarily and won’t give you a reason why. In addition, they don’t allow what they consider “bad” words. Since I review hard BDSM book too, I’ve had issues with Amazon removing a review and not answering why.

    This is really only a problem for people who don’t like to have their accounts linked and are concerned about their review.

    • I’ve never left a review on Amazon (as you may have gathered!) but I’ve read about issues with reviews being removed without explanation. I agree that if they look to extend the same level of “censorship” currently applied at Amazon, that will be a shame.

      I suspect there will be a massive uproar if they do link accounts with the same emails without asking first – on the other hand, I also think some people will actually appreciate the convenience.

  2. “But as long as my Amazon account remains unlinked to my Goodreads one (and I use different email addresses so I would be really %^!&*’d off if that happened), I think this change in ownership by itself is not going to make me close my Goodreads account. It remains to be seen if this actually has an impact on the Goodreads end-user experience – I hope not, but I think we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

    This is my reaction, too. Except being paranoid I also exported all my data with the .csv format they offer. Just to be on the safe side.

  3. I haven’t used Goodreads yet, but am considering it. Does it take a lot of time to get it set up and enter your books? That’s what has kept me from signing up.

    I used to use Google Reader, but stopped awhile ago. I’m thinking of using Feedly or one of the other news readers. I actually signed up for Newsblur a week or so ago and then found out they weren’t taking new people for the free service, but I could pay $24/year for their paid service! I don’t think so!

    • It depends – it’s really easy to get set up and keep track of your reads and/or to reads, but if you want to enter lots of books, it may take a while. They do have a bulk upload functionality, but I’ve never tried it and have a suspicion it will be a bit fiddly. I’ve been slowly uploading my older reviews, but really I’ve only used GR to track my books from the start of 2011 onwards (which is around when I joined). If you do decide to start a Goodreads account, do let me know your username.

      I find RSS readers a really useful way of following a lot of blogs, especially the ones that don’t update that frequently. I haven’t checked out Newsblur yet, but won’t now – thanks for the heads up!

      • Hi Li! Well, you’ve prompted me to sign up for Goodreads! I’ve done so, but I’m not quite sure how to add a button to my blog!

        I’m also trying out a couple RSS readers–bloglovin and netvibes. So far, I like netvibes a lot, but I don’t think I’ve explored them enough.

  4. I’m glad you like Feedly, Li! I’m waiting for others to try out different things and then, I’ll choose LOL. So it seems that I’ll have a back up option! 🙂

    Amazon buying Goodreads… Hmm, well it’s just seeing something getting bigger and bigger. I mean, aren’t they big enough?

    • Despite the fact they pulled the plug on Reader, I do appreciate Google giving three months’ notice for everyone to find alternatives – imagine if it was only a couple of weeks.

      I guess Amazon are ultimately paying for the data mining potential from Goodreads – don’t blame them!

  5. I don’t know what to make of the amazon-goodreads merge thing. I always liked goodreads because it seemed to be solely focused on books and people connecting through books. Being owned and controlled by amazon just turns it into a business and I’m not sure I want my hobby to be so closely linked to a business. :/

    • I get what you’re saying – I’m hoping that we’ll not see an impact on the day-to-day Goodreads experience. That could be on the naive side admittedly – in two years’ time, I could be looking back at this comment and wonder what I was thinking…

  6. Re the Amazon/GoodReads thing, I have ethical problems with the way Amazon has shaken up the publishing/book retailing world, so while I’m as guilty as the next person of spending my money with them, I do prefer to support other booksellers when I can. I’ve been an Audible customer for years, and obviously, Amazon took over there a while back. They bought the Book Depository, which was my preferred online retailer. And now GoodReads…it just feels as if Amazon is gradually spreading its tentacles into all areas of my online reading life, and I’m not comfortable with that.

    I certainly won’t be closing my GoodReads account – it’s one of my favourite things about the internet! But I also hope that Amazon doesn’t mess with GR too much. For example some people have suggested that it might try to merge the reviewing sections, which would be an absolute nightmare, IMO.

    • I remember when Amazon bought the Book Depository – I used to split my purchases between the two depending on which was (marginally!) cheaper. I have to say that they still feel like separate companies to me, which is promising for the GR acquisition (though caveated by the fact I don’t actually buy that many hard/paperbacks nowadays).

      I read an argument somewhere over the weekend that there was no reason why none of the other big publishing houses couldn’t have done what Amazon did, it’s just that they dared more/faster (paraphrasing horribly here, I’ve just remembered the article was in the Times so can’t link due to the paywall) – I guess we’ll see whether this move pays off for both Amazon and Goodreads. For selfish reasons, I hope it does – I’ll hate to see Goodreads go the way of Shelfari etc.

      • I just worry that the low price model imposed by Amazon (most of the top 20 bestsellers in the Kindle section are under £2, and the only one that’s anywhere near the price of a regular book is the new Kate Atkinson) will result in writing and publishing becoming unsustainable as professions. I know writing is already pretty much that way, unless you’re very lucky, but I would hate to see it become even tougher to make any money at all from writing.

        Anyway. You’re right that the Book Depository has successfully retained its separate identity, and that’s heartening!

      • The counter-argument could be that barriers to entry in the publishing business are now much lower than before – self-publishing is now an actual realistic option, whereas in the traditional publishing model, you generally had to go via the agented/publishing house route which had limited opportunities.

        I don’t think Amazon necessarily encourages super-low prices (IIRC their royalties model encourages both lower *and* upper caps), but I suppose the “publicity” of being on their bestsellers list is a factor. I suspect that eventually we’ll settle on a “new norm” for ebook pricing, but at the moment, prices are all over the place.

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