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