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Amazon Buys Goodreads

Amazon purchase of Goodreads stuns book industry

Alarm from Authors’ Guild, and many Goodreads users, over ‘shocking vertical integration’ but at least one writer declares move ‘cool’

Goodreads

Goodreads news, bad news? The Goodreads website

“Truly devastating” for some authors but “like finding out my mom is marrying that cool dude next door that I’ve been palling around with” for another, Amazon’s announcement late last week that it was buying the hugely popular reader review site Goodreads has sent shockwaves through the book industry.

The acquisition, terms of which Amazon.com did not reveal, will close in the second quarter of this year. Goodreads, founded in 2007, has more than 16m members, who have added more than four books per second to their “want to read” shelves over the past 90 days, according to Amazon. The internet retailer’s vice president of Kindle content, Russ Grandinetti, said the two sites “share a passion for reinventing reading”.

“Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike,” said Grandinetti, announcing the buy. Goodreads co-founder Otis Chandler said the deal with Amazon meant “we’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world”, adding on his blog that “we have no plans to change the Goodreads experience and Goodreads will continue to be the wonderful community we all cherish”.

But despite Chandler’s reassurances, many readers and authors reacted negatively to the news. American writers’ organisation the Authors’ Guild called the acquisition a “truly devastating act of vertical integration” which meant that “Amazon’s control of online bookselling approaches the insurmountable”. Bestselling legal thriller author Scott Turow, president of the Guild, said it was “a textbook example of how modern internet monopolies can be built”.

“The key is to eliminate or absorb competitors before they pose a serious threat,” said Turow. “With its 16 million subscribers, Goodreads could easily have become a competing online bookseller, or played a role in directing buyers to a site other than Amazon. Instead, Amazon has scuttled that potential and also squelched what was fast becoming the go-to venue for online reviews, attracting far more attention than Amazon for those seeking independent assessment and discussion of books. As those in advertising have long known, the key to driving sales is controlling information.”

Turow was joined in his concerns by members of Goodreads, many of whom expressed their fears about what the deal would mean on Chandler’s blog. “I have to admit I’m not entirely thrilled by this development,” wrote one of the more level-headed commenters. “As a general rule I like Amazon, but unless they take an entirely 100% hands-off attitude toward Goodreads I find it hard to believe this will be in the best interest for the readers. There are simply too many ways they can interfere with the neutral Goodreads experience and/or try to profit from the strictly volunteer efforts of Goodreads users.”

But not all authors were against the move. Hugh Howey, author of the smash hit dystopian thriller Wool – which took off after he self-published it via Amazon – said it was “like finding out my mom is marrying that cool dude next door that I’ve been palling around with”. While Howey predicted “a lot of hand-wringing over the acquisition”, he said there were “so many ways this can be good for all involved. I’m still trying to think of a way it could suck.”

“Right now, I spend a lot of time on both sites in both capacities,” said Howey. “My guess is that we won’t see many changes at all. I’m betting that the real acquisition here is all the data behind the scenes. The algorithms that tell me what to buy (and almost always nail it) are going to get better. The social networks that feed my reading habit are going to get stronger. The people who helped make Goodreads awesome are going to get richer. And the people at Amazon, who I have gotten to know this past year and who to a man and woman love the fuck out of some books, are going to keep trying to get the right ones in the hands of readers.”

The acquisition of Goodreads follows Amazon’s purchase of Shelfari, another social reading site, in 2008.

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Digital Publishing

Posted to Nerdvana at the East Valley Tribune by Bob Leeper:

http://blogs.evtrib.com/nerdvana/books/are-printed-books-histor-e-local-authors-embrace-digital-publishing/65468/

Are printed books histor-E? Local authors embrace digital publishing

Posted by  on February 17, 2012 – 1:34 am

eBooks vs DinosaursDinosaurs walk among us. No, I don’t mean giant reptiles munching vegetation down on Main Street, or carnivorously carousing up the center of Central Boulevard. I’m talking about those of us who have yet to trade in our prized paperbacks and hallowed hardcover books for the new wave of Nooks, Kindles, BeBooks and other e-book reading devices.

For some of us, they will have to pull our dog-eared printed copy of Jurassic Park from our cold dead hands, but as e-books continue to grow in popularity, many local writers have embraced the medium of electronic books as an easy and inexpensive way to reach the masses with their literary efforts.

Bob Nelson is the CEO and manager of the local “media microglomerate” Brick Cave Media, an independent publisher that relies heavily on sales of electronic media. Bob was at the forefront of the ‘e’ revolution, offering books and magazines for sale online as early as 1996. He has since expanded his efforts and now publishes several local authors in electronic formats including e-books, CDs, DVDs and ‘old-school’ print.

“In 1996, myself and Joe Giunta published a literary magazine called Anthology,” Mr. Nelson said, “and the idea of being able to present readers with the magazine on their computer, as we envisioned it on page, but without the printing overhead, was tremendously appealing.” Between 2010 and 2012 Brick Cave Media has experienced triple digit revenue growth in their e-book sales, and for the first six weeks of 2012 they have done more business than in the first 5 months of 2011 combined.

Mr. Nelson explains, “As a consumer, and as a publisher, I see that some businesses ‘get it’ when it comes to e-books, and some do not. Amazon most definitely ‘gets it’ when it comes to creating an ecosystem that is pleasant to shop in and is user friendly for small-press and self-published authors to make their work available to a large audience. Some companies, like Sony, have had a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes in the industry over the last two years, while others like Apple, have embraced and pushed the medium to new heights. Others, like Google, have approached the effort in minimalist style, which can create an unfriendly user experience.”

Brick Cave BooksBrick Cave Media

Bob continued, “I always encourage people to take charge of their destiny, and this technology allows writers to do that. The challenge now is that everyone has the same access to the same technology, so you must become a savvy marketer to stand out from the crowd, and that will become more evident as more people choose to self-publish.”

While Brick Cave Media represents writers from all corners of the Phoenix Metro area, they are based out of the East Valley and sponsor many local spoken-word and writing events, including the sci-fi & fantasy writer’s workshop, at Lo-Fi Coffee in Mesa, on the first Saturday of every month. The workshop starts at 10 a.m. and includes a reading and discussion session, writing exercises and other fun activities to help you make your writing better. Authors or aspiring writers wanting to contact Brick Cave Media can email Bob Nelson at bob@brickcavemedia.com

There are also groups on the West-side of the Valley that can help aspiring authors to develop their work and get it out to an audience. The Westside Wordsmiths meet regularly and their members consist of both published authors and up-and-coming writers. Wordsmith member Michael Bradleyhas experienced e-book success with his steampunk novel The Travelers’ Club and the Ghost Ship.Michael says, “My own sales are steadily increasing on Kindle and in person. My fellow writers consider me a success story, but I am nowhere near where I plan to be.”

Mr. Bradley is working on starting up an Arizona Literary Guild and speaks regularly to new authors about independent publishing and its ups and downs. You can get more information on the Westside Wordsmiths and the upcoming Arizona Literary Guild by contacting Michael at email eiverness@cox.net

Here is a list of several genre books written by local authors and available online as eBooks, or for us dinosaurs, most can be ordered in print as well.

  • Escape Velocity by The Klute – Escape the Earth’s gravitational pull with poetry and musings by The Klute, including Vampire Slayer, I Never Met the Dead Man and Marketing the Planet.
  • Immortal Sherwood by J.A. Giunta – Set in the future, a computer programmer must deal with both his lost love and a sudden change of circumstance that could render his most recent programming effort to be his last.
  • The Stories of Haven by Sharon Skinner – There is nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned, especially when she can turn you to stone… The first Sharon Skinner story of Haven features the origin story of one of Haven’s first characters. If she’s a villain or a hero is for you to decide.
  • The Travelers’ Club and the Ghost Ship by Michael Bradley – This is not the 1880 you read about in your history books…
    Confederate sharpshooter Ashley Cooper discovers alien technologies, a world full of foes, and a showdown with zombies and other creatures of nightmare that will determine the future of mankind.
  • The Crawlspace by Darryl Dawson – There is a place so dark, so narrow and so cold that once you step inside, only nightmares matter. This collection takes you deep into that place with thirteen new tales of horror from the twisted, fertile imagination of Darryl Dawson.
  • The Egg Said Nothing by Caris O’Malley – Meet Manny. He’s your average shut-in with a penchant for late night television and looting local fountains for coins. With eight locks on his door and newspapers covering his windows, he’s a more than a bit paranoid, too. His wasn’t a great life, but it was comfortable-at least it was until the morning he awoke with an egg between his legs.
  • Spectrum by Bob Nelson – A collection of poetry by Bob Nelson, including X-Terminated, Dancing Time Bombs, Casual Indifference and Faith Based Nation. 

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