Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!
I received an email from Goodreads this morning, informing me that Amazon has just acquired them, and I knew immediately that this was going to create a huge stir in the indie author community. I was right – boards such as the newly renamed kboards.com are abuzz with speculation – what does this mean for us? Oh woe, Amazon is going to screw us, oh doom.
Most people don’t like change, and this is extremely evident in the author world (we are a skittish bunch).
But since I like to look at things from all angles I wanted to have a think about this before I commented. I’ve read a few news reports, a few blog posts, a few forum discussions. Admittedly this is all second-hand information – I’m not privy to any of the inner workings of Amazon or Goodreads, but it’s good to get some initial impressions and opinions before I formed my own.
At the moment, my thoughts are this – it’s a good thing (as Martha would say).
What does Amazon have, more than any other site? = Books
What does Goodreads have, more than any other site? = Readers
Bringing the very thing that the readers want, to their fingertips, will make it easier to purchase their favorite books (you just know that Amazon is going to integrate an easy way for readers to buy books – many people are speculating already that they may introduce a buy button or at least a link directly to the Amz book page).
Many people currently complain that Goodreads can be clunky and hard to find your way around, if there is a tuck and tweak to the website to create a better user experience, and we all know that Amazon is well-known for tweaking their own site for maximum efficiency and (obviously) revenue, that can only help to improve the overall reader experience.
True, it does mean that the largest reader social site online right now will now promote Amz books, and not other stores. You already know that I’m against the exclusivity of Amazon’s Select program preferring wider distribution, however, a one click buy will make it much easier for readers.
So for readers, I can see this acquisition is a very good thing.
But what about authors?
Bringing books directly to readers is what Amazon has always been about from the moment they first introduced the Kindle.
Since they did so back in 2007 a new world opened up for authors. The rise of the independent author rose unlike any other time in history, and it created a way for authors to get their product directly into the hands of the consumer without having to go through a middleman.
That move was revolutionary and I for one am so thankful for the opportunities I have today because of it.
This latest move – Amazon acquiring Goodreads – was all about Amazon acquiring more customers for their business. Specifically – readers for their Kindle eBooks.
More readers for ebooks means more income for authors.
Let me repeat that – more readers buying ebooks, means more income for authors.
Yes, all the income will come from one store (although customers still do have a choice where to buy as they always have). But more readers and therefore buyers, has to be good for authors.
And don’t think that Apple (especially) and perhaps Kobo (although I think B&N doesn’t have much fight left in them) will ignore this. They’ll be looking for new ways to acquire new customers. This news will fire them up to try to entice readers over to their stores to buy books, too. Again making it better for authors.
We’ll see some interesting moves from them in the future – if they are smart.
But won’t Amazon change Goodreads?
They didn’t change Shelfari when they acquired them. They just integrated Shelfari into the Amz site with extra metadata including character names, series info, etc.
They didn’t take away Createspace’s ability to distribute elsewhere. You can still get your print books into other online stores with extended distribution.
When they started KDP (before it was called that), over time they’ve made it better and easier for authors.
Everything they’ve acquired at this point has only made better opportunities for authors. And right now, I can only see that this acquisition is better for authors too, by making it better for readers.
Let’s hope I’m right 😉