Well Amazon finally screwed the pooch with GoodReads. I said this would happen as soon as Amazon acquired GR. Blow hards like David Gaughran who were probably already getting kickbacks from Amazon provided Amazon apologetics but I could see through the hypocrisy.
What happened? Well last Friday, as most of the GR staff were probably hitting the freeway, GR announced a new censorship policy. They would now delete reviews completely, without warning or notice, that were prejudicial towards authors when they felt the author comments from the reviewer were not relevant to the book review at hand or just plain hostile to the author. At the same time they said they would start deleting user book shelves where they deemed the shelf title or shelf contents also violated this policy, say if I had a shelf which was called “worthless authors who’s books I will never buy or read.” They will delete these completely without notice. Oh, and if you admit you couldn’t finish the book because it was so bad, they’ll delete that review too. You have to finish the book now to post a review that won’t get “removed.”
They provided all this information strictly through a group thread, no real announcement to anyone and had already started deleting content without warning. The Friday “bad news” drop is a typical ploy used by government and corporations so nobody has to deal with it, it in theory has no effect or a dampened effect by Monday. Amazon, er, I mean GoodReads employed the same sleazy tactic.
This entire fiasco comes out of the fact that instead of being an independent entity like GR used to be it is now essentially a division of Amazon a bookseller. Smell something fishy in Denmark? Do I see a conflict of interest?
Another factor was the whiny GR authors, many of whom never published anything worthwhile (GR is flooded with mainly worthless self-published authors as well as a few good ones). These authors whined about being attacked and unfairly treated. The fact that GR is now a division of a bookseller leads them to try to protect authors, delete negative reviews, negative book shelves, etc. I assume the next shoe will be deleting one-star reviews from the ratings. Who is unfairly treated now?
What can you do? Well there are already fledgling sites like BookLikes that offer a level of competition. In addition there is still LibraryThing. You can export all your GR content (including all the reviews) to a .csv file that can be read into MS-Excel and usually transferred to the alternate biblio-social networks like BL and LT.
Boycott GoodReads and Amazon. There are alternatives to buy books from, even a lot of Kindle content can be purchased directly from publishers. Go to an independent bookseller. Barnes and Noble needs the money anyway if you want to see a viable alternative to Amazon in the future.